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OCT 101988 


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The comp 

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2009 with funding from 

Princeton Theological Seminary Library 




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W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational 
Union, Edinburgh. 

JAMES BEGG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh. 

THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University, 

D. T. K. DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas's Episcopal Clmrcli, 


"WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church 
History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presby- 
terian Church, Edinburgh. 

General ©Ui'tor. 
REV. THOMAS SMITH, M.A., Edikbuegh. 





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BOWELS opened; or, a discovery of THE NEAR AND DEAR LOVE, UNION 











OB, Expository Sermons on Canticles IV. 16, V. 71. 

Prefatory Note, ...... 

Dedication, ....... 

To the Christian Reader, by John Dods, . , . 

A table of the chief heads and contents of the following Sermons 

in this book — 
The introduction, ..... 
There is the same regard of the whole church, and of every par^ 

ticular member, in regard of the chiefest privileges and graces 

that accompany salvation, 
All creatures stand in obedience to Christ, 
The courses that Christ takes with his church may seem con^ 

trary, but by a wise ordering all agree in the wholesome issue 
In what respects the Spirit of God is compared to wind. 
In what respects we need the blowing of the Spirit, . 
In what respects the church is compared to a garden 
Christians should walk as men of a severed condition from the 

world, ...... 

Christians planted in God's garden should be fruitful, 

God cares for and protecteth his church. 

We need not only grace to put life into us at the first, but like 

wise grace to quicken and draw forth that life we have. 
It is not enough to be good ourselves, but om' goodness must 

flow out, ..... 

Where once God begins he goes on, and adds encouragement 

to encouragement, to maintain new setters up in religion. 
Wheresoever grace is truly begun, there is still a further desire 

of Christ's presence, .... 

Why the church is so earnest in desiring the presence of Christ 
A gracious heart is privy to its own grace when it is in a right 

temper ; and so far as it is privy, is bold with Christ in a 

sweet and reverent manner, . . . , 
















It is the duty and disposition of the church of Christ to please 

her husband, . . . . . . 12, 13 

The church gives all to Christ, . . . . 13 

Comfort in the wants and blemishes of our performances, . 13, 14 
The resolution of the -whole fifth chapter of Canticles, . 15 
The order of God's hearing his church, . . . 15 
God makes us good, stirs up holy desires in us, and then an- 
swers the desires of his Spirit in us, . . . 15 
Why God hears our prayers, .... 16 

Cases wherein one is unfit to pray, .... 17 

How to know when God hears our prayers, . , . 18 
Christ vouchsafes his gracious presence to his children upon 

their desire of it, . . . . . . 18, 19 

The church is carried from desire to desire after the presence 

ofChiist, ...... 19 

How to know that Christ is present in us, . . . 19 

Where Christ is present, there heaven is in some degree, . 19, 20 

Having Christ's presence, we need fear nothing, . . 2Q 

Christ is our brother, ..... 20, 21 

The chm-ch's royal descent, ..... 21 

The church is the spouse of Christ, .... 22 

Resemblances betwixt the temporal and spiritual marriage. . 22 

The comfort of Christ being our husband, ... 23 
Christians being the spouse of Christ, should labour for chaste 

judgments and affections, ..... 23 

Om* afi"ections are as their objects, .... 23, 24 

How to know whether we be espoused to Christ or not, . 24 

Encouragement and direction to those who are not yet in Christ, 24 

God accepts of the graces of his children, and dehghts in them, 25 

Encouragement to be much in holy duties, ... 26 
Our care must be to preserve om'selves in a good estate fi.'ee 

from the guilt of any sin, . . . ... 26 

Christ when he comes to a soul comes not empty, . . 26, 27 

Exhortation to have communion with Christ, . . 27 
We ought to rejoice in the comforts and graces of others, and 

of ourselves, ...... 28-80 

There is a mutual feasting betwixt Christ and his church, . 80 
Resemblances betwixt corporal feasts and the feast Christ maketh 

us of himself, . . . ... . 30-32 

What we should bring with us to the feast Christ makes us, . 32 

The means to procure an appetite to Christ, . . . 32, 83 
All kinds and degi'ees of fi'iendship meet in Christ towards his 

chm-ch, ....... 38, 84 

All the requisites to make up true friendship are found in Christ, 34, 85 

Friendship of Christ is sweet and constant, ... 35 
The state of the church and every Christian is subject to spiritual 

alterations, ...... 35, 36 

Where corruption is not thoroughly purged and a careful watch 
kept over the soul, thereafter a recovery, will follow a more 

dangerous distemper, ..... 86 

It is the disposition of God's children to be ingenuous in open- 
ing their state to God, . • . . . 36, 37 



A gracious soul is abased for lesser defects, ... 87 

What meant by the sleep of the church, ... 88 
The resemblances between bodily and spiritual sleep in their 

causes, effects, and dangers, .... 89, 40 

Security and sleepiness of the church in Constantino's time, . 40 

The judgments of best men cannot always be safely rehed on, 41 

Sleepiness of the church in these latter ages, ... 41 

Signs of a sleepy estate, ..... 41, 42 

Motives against sleepiness, ..... 42, 43 
A Christian may know how it is with himself, though he be mixed 

with flesh and spirit, ..... 44, 45 
We should as well acknowledge that which is good, as that 

which is evil in our hearts, .... 45 

The good that the church retained in her sleepy condition, . 45, 46 

God's children never totally fall from grace, ... 47 

A Christian is what his heart and inward man is, . . 47, 48 

Difference between a Christian and an hypocrite, . . 48 

A waking state is a blessed state, .... 49 
Means how to preserve our souls in a waking condition in 

drowsy times, ...... 49-52 

Christians must especially be watchful in the use of liberty and 

such things as in themselves are lawful, ... 52 

The excellency of a waking Christian, . . . 52, 53 
True Christians are discerned by a spiritual taste in hearing 

God's word, ...... 54 

Papists' objection, how shall we know that the word is the word 

of God, answered, ..... 54, 55 

Why so many apostatise, . . . . . 55 

A Christian is sensible of all the blessed helps he hath to salvation, 55, 56 
The difference between the sleep of a Christian and dead sleep 

of natural men, ...... 56 

Christ still desires a further and fm*ther communion with his 

church, ....... 56 

The cause of Christ's strangeness to us is in ourselves, . 56, 57 
Christ takes not advantage from the sins of the church to leave 

them altogether, but makes further and further love to them, 57 

How Christ is said to knock at our hearts, . . . 58-60 

Why Chi'ist knocks when he hath power to open to himself, . 60, 61 

The heart of a Christian is the house and temple of God, . 62 

How Christ can come into the soul, .... 62 

How we may know whether Chi-ist dwells in our hearts, . 62 

We arc to cherish all the good conceits we can of Christ, . 62, 63 
The woful estate of those who entertain not Christ knocking 

at the door of their hearts, .... 63 

That Christ hath used all kinds of knockings to this nation, . 64 

Considerations enforcing us to entertain Christ . . 65 

That Christ's knocking is especially by the ministry of the word, 66 
There are none in the church but have been allured at some 

time or other to come in, . . . . . 66, 67 

Encouragement to pray for the church, ... 67 

Christ hath never enough of his church till he hath it in heaven, 68 

The sufferings of Christ in himself and ministers, . . 68, 69 



Christ's patience to us should make us patient under God's 

corrections, and in our dealings with others, . . 69 

The church of God is Christ's sister and spouse, . . 69, 70 

The grounds of Christ's special love to his church and children, 70 

No saving love out of the church, .... 71 

Properties of Christ's love to his church, ... 71 
"Whether Christ cannot see matter of weakness and sinfulness 

in his church, ...... 72 

How to know Christ loves us in a peculiar manner, . . 72, 73 

Keproof of those who love not God's children, . . 73, 74 

Why Christ calls his church his love, ... 74 
An argument to prove the stability of the saints, and the soul's 

immortahty, ...... 75 

How transcendent majesty and infinite love dwelt together in 

Christ, . . . . . . .75,76 

Why the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove at Christ's 

baptism, ....... 76 

■Church, why compared to a dove, .... 76 

Properties of a dove resembled to the church, . . 76—78 

What defence God's church hath when it is persecuted, . 79 

That God's church hath always a refuge in God in the worst times, 79 

How the church is said to be undefiled, . . . 79, 80 
How Christ's righteousness, not being in the church, may yet 

be said to be the church's, .... 80 

How we, being sinners, may yet be said to be undefiled, . 80-83 

Christ's love to us should make us love him again, . . 84 

Direction how afflicted in conscience are to judge of themselves, 84 
Christians are not to wrong themselves with false judging of 

their estates, ...... 84, 85 

It is not an easy thing to bring the soul and Christ together 

into near fellowship, ..... 86 
False reasons, excuses, and pretences hinder communion with 

Christ, . . . . . . .86,87 

Excuses of the flesh to hinder our communion with Christ 

answered, ...... 87, 88 

Excuses of worldlings to hinder their communion with Christ 

answered, ...... 88 

Causes of the false pretences and excuses which hinder many 

from holy duties, ...... 89—91 

Helps to keep us from putting off and delaying holy duties by 

false reasons and excuses, .... 91-99 

That Christ doth use some times to leave his chiu'ch and chil- 
dren, ....... 100, 101 

Ends why Christ leaves his children, . . . 101, 102 

Christians v.-anting comfort are not to be censured, . . 103 

We are to prepare for desertion, .... 103 

The cause of Christ's withdrawing comfort from us rests in 

ourselves, ...... 103 

Christ never altogether leaves the church, . ' . . 104 

Christ's gi-ace is the cause of our grace, . . . 104 
We find experience of the grace of Christ especially when we 

stir up ourselves to endeavour, . . ^ , . 105 


God's graces are sweet, . . . . " 

Outward means, without the Spirit of Christ, are ineflfectual, 

Christ always leaves some grace before he oflers to depart, 

Sins of omission bring grief and shame, 

Christ hath our affections in his government, 

Christ is wonderful in his saints and in his goodness towards 

them, ...... 

Truth of affection will discover itself in outward expressions, 
The word of Christ, though for the present it be not effectual 

yet afterwards it will be, .... 
Christ so leaves his children sometimes, that their hearts fail 

them for want of his presence, 
•Causes of the fainting of Christian souls. 
The difference between the true child of God and others, 
Christ is many times present with the church when she finds 

and feels it not, ..... 
How we are to judge of ourselves in a dead estate. 
We should depend upon Christ when he seems absent from us, 
How to know God hears our prayers, 
Directions how to carry ourselves when we pray without success, 

or in any state of desertion. 
It is no easy thing to be a sound Christian, . 
Governors of the church and state compared to watchmen, 
Reasons why God uscLh watchmen, . 
How the church was wounded by the watchmen. 
How the church's veil is taken away, 
Why the watchmen are the wounders of the church, . 
We are not to think the worse of any for the disgraces of the 

time, . . . , . 

True grace grows up with difficulties, 
If we find not comfort in one means, we must have recourse to 

another, ...... 

Resemblances between Jerusalem and the church. 

How to know we are daughters of Jerusalem, 

We are to desire the prayers of others. 

Love-sick, what it is, 

How to know we are sick of love to Christ, . 

How is the church said to be the fairest among women ? 

In what respects the church calls herself black. 

There is a wondrous force in the examples of Christians to stir 

up one another, ..... 
The excellent use of holy conference, 
Christians should be inquisitive. 
Whence comes the church's fairness under such seeming foul 

ness and disgrace ? . . . . 

How we are to judge of God's people under seeming disgraces 
Christians are to improve the gifts of others by qucsfio; s, 
Our endeavours must be to make religion lovely. 
There is no envy in spiritual things, 
Christ is a most beautiful person, 
Ghrist, as he is beautiful and good, so ht beyond all com 

parison good, ...... 

106, 107 





116, 117 

117, 118 

121, 122 





135, 136 
137, 138 




Christ only was king, priest, and prophet, . . . 140 
Christ's transcendent excellencies serve to draw those that are 

not yet in Christ unto him, and to comfort those that are in 

Christ, ....... 142 

The desperate folly of most men who choose base, transitory 

things, and refuse Christ, .... 143 
Christians ought to make Christ the rule of their choice in other 

things, ....... 144 

Means to enable us rightly to value Christ, and highly to esteem 

of him, ....... 144, 145 

There is somewhat of God in every creature, . . 147 

Why the church is so exact in particularising her beloved, . 148 

Why Christ is set out by an head of gold, . . . 149 

Christians should be suitable to Christ their head, . . 150 

Why Christ is said to have doves' eyes, . . . 151 
The manifestation of Christ to his children by his Spirit in any 

of his ordinances is a sweet and delightful manifestation, . 152 

Christ's doctrine is sweet and sound, . . . 153 

All Christ's actions are precious, .... 153, 154 
The best discovery of our state in grace is by our affection to 

the word of Christ, . . . . .155 

Christ, every way considered, is altogether lovely, . . 156 

Christ in his lowest abasements for us was most lovely, . 156, 157 

We are to rest upon Christ's obedience and righteousness, . 157 

Our best affections ought to be set upon Christ, . . 157 

How to know whether we love Christ, . . . 158 
Means whereby we may be enabled to love and highly esteem 

of Christ, ...... 161 

Ends why the church in general and particular, sets forth the 

excellencies of Christ, ..... 162, 163 
Grace, though it be never so small at the first, yet it is grov/- 

ing still, ....... 165 

Usually God works with the means, .... 166 

How to be happy instruments to convert others, . . 167 
That which most stirs up holy affections to search after Christ, 

is the large explications of his excellencies, . . 167 

In what respects Christians are compared to lilies, . . 169 

Comfort to God's people against all their ill censures and wants, 170, 171 

Christ will not be long absent from his church, . . 171 

We are to wait, and never to give over seeking of Christ, . 172, 173 
There must be union of persons to Christ before there can be 

communion with him, ..... 173 
From the union of our persons to Christ comes communion of 

all other things, ...... 173 

What these words imply, ' I am my Beloved's and my Beloved 

is mine,' ....... 174-176 

Causes why God absents himself from his children, . . 176 

When usually Christ returns after desertion, . . . 177 

How Christ comes to be ours, .... 177 

The riches of a Christian that has Christ to be his portion, . 178 
Christians having Christ for their portion should be contented 

with thoir outward condition, whatsoever it is, . . 178 

contents. zx 

Why sometimes we want outward things being in Christ, . 178 

How we are Christ's beloved, .... 179 

Sufferings of the chui'ch are to conform her to Christ her hus- 
band, . . . . . ... 180 

The sweetest communion with Christ is under the greatest 

crosses, ....... 181 

Our giving ourselves to Christ is a sure evidence that we are 

Christ's, ....... 181 

How to answer Satan when he tempts us to sin or despair, . 181 

Keasons why Christ must be given to us before we can give 

ourselves to him, ...... 182 

Direction how to be enabled to say, ' I am my Beloved's and 

my Beloved is mine,' ..... 184—186 

The excellency of a Christian walking in di\ine light above 

other men, . . . . . .186 

Exhortation and encouragement for those who are not yet in 

Christ to come in, . . . . .187 

Those who have given themselves up to Christ ought not to be 

discouraged for their infirmities, .... 187 

"We must labour to comprehend the love of Christ to us, which 

will enable us to suffer willingly and cheerfully, . . 187, 188 

Christ feeds his chm'ch and people in fat pastures, . . 188 

Christ feeds as well as breeds, . . . .189 

Keasons of the necessity of our continual feeding in Christianity, 190 

Christ feeds his people plentifully and sweetly, . . 190 

Happiness of these times wherein there is such plenty of 

spiritual food, ...... 190 

The sweetness of our lives is not lost by becoming religious, . 191, 192 
How to get hungiy appetites to the Sacrament, . . 19S 

Notes, ....... 193-195 


Prefatory Note, ...... 19& 

Dedication, ....... 199' 

[Text] Canticles I. 2, * Let him kiss me with the kisses of his 

mouth : for thy love is better than wine,' . . . 200-208 


Prefatory Note, ..... 210 

To the Christian Header, by John Hill, . . .211, 212 

[Text] Ps. XXVII. 4, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord, 
that I will seek after ; that I may dwell in the house of the 
Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the 
Lord, and to inquire in his temple,' . . • 213-248 




Difference of things in the world, . . . .216 

The scope of a good heart in the use of God's ordinances, what 

itis, . . . . . . .217 

Observation!. The object of a Christian's desire, what, . 217 

Why said to be one thing, — in respect of God ; in respect of 

the soul ; in respect of grace, .... 217, 218 

Use. To shew the folly of worldly men in the neglect of the 

one thing necessary, . . . . . 218 

Thoughts and desires the primitive issues of the heart, . 219 

How they are begotten, . . . . . 219 

Observation 2. The Spii-it of God in the hearts of his children 

is effectual in stimng up holy desires, . . . 219 

Trial of desii-es whether true — by their object; by their fer- 
vency ; by their constancy ; by their rise ; by their end ; 
by their endeavours, ..... 219, 220 

Use. Exhortation to examine our desires, . . . 220 

Strong desires how to know when they are so, . . 220, 221 

Observation 3. Holy desires are to be turned into prayers, . 222 

Eeason 1. Thereby we maintain acquaintance with God, . 222 

Keason 2. Thereby we manifest a* good conscience . . 223 

Observation 4. Perseverance and importunity requisite in 

prayer, ....... 223 

God doth not presently answer our desires and why — because 

he loves to hear us pray ; to keep us humble ; to exercise 

our graces ; to make us prize his blessings ; to teach us to 

use them better when we enjoy them, . . . 224 

The having the spirit of prayer better than the enjoyment of 

particular blessings, ..... 225 

Assurance before we pray to receive what we pray for, no hin- 
drance to prayer, ...... 225 

God's house, what it is, . . . . . 226 

Love of God's children, to good things, constant, . . 227 

Observation 5. God is beautiful in himself, . . . 229 

In his church, ...... 230 

Especially in Christ, ..... 230 

Christ most lovely in his greatest abasement, . • 231 

The church beautiful, ..... 231 

In regard of the angels, ..... 231 

In regard of the ordinances — the word preached ; the sacra- 
ments ; discipline ; joint service of God, . . . 232, 233 
In regard of the evidences of God's love — protection ; effectual 

calling ; justification ; sanctification ; inward peace and joy, 234, 235 
The church of God a paradise, .... 235, 236 

Use. Exhortation to be in love with the beauty of God and 

his house, ...... 236 

Carnal men see not this beauty, and why, . , . 236 

True dehght, wherein it consists, .... 237 

Happiness of man, what, ..... 237 

How to come to see the beauty of God, . . • 238 

Get spiritual life, ...... 238 

Beg the spirit of revelation, ..... 238 

Labour to see our own deformity, . . • • 238 



Consider Christ's relations to ua, 

A continual necessity of the ordinances, 

Private duties must give way to public, 

Papists, their error in addition, 

There hath ahvay been a church, 

Marks of the true church, 

Abuse of things takes not away their use. 

What estate they are in that are cast out of the church, 

Trials of our love to the beauty of God's house, 

How to come to see the beauty of God's house ; use God's 

means ; come in faith, .... 
Compare the excellency of God's house with other things, 
Desire God to reveal himself in his ordinances. 
Motives to labour to see the beauty of God himself, and of his 

house, .... 
It makes us glorious. 
Our souls are made for these things. 
Lest God remove his ordinances, . 

Notes, .... 



241, 242 




246, 247 

247, 248 



Ob, a Commentary upon Hosea XTV. 

Prefatory Note, 

To the Pteader, by John Hill, 


The sum of this Treatise — 

The time when Hosea prophesied, . . . 252 

The people of God are exhorted to repentance by many motives, 253 
God's answer to their petitions, .... 25^ 

God comes not suddenly upon his children, but gives them 

warning, ...... 254 

Which ariseth from the goodness of his nature, . . 254 

Spiritual means best for preventing judgments, . . 254 

In returning to God, there must be a stop, . . 255 

Humiliation, what it is, . . . . . 255- 

Resolution, what it is, . . . . . 255 

How to know the truth of our humiliation, . . 256 

Where there is a falling into sin there will be a falhng into 

misery, ...... 256—258 

God is willing to be at peace with us, . . . 259 

In all our distresses we must come to God in prayer, . 259, 26Q 

Why we must bring words with us, though God knows our 

niind, ....... 260 

That words and purposes must concur in prayer, . . 260, 261 

Confession, how it is to be made, . . . .261 

Why all iniquity is to be prayed against, . . . 261 

The trial of a sound desire, .... 262 

xiv contents. 

Mercy begged above all, ..... 262 

Whether we ought not to think of our former sins, . 263 

How we may know our sins are forgiven, . . . 263, 264 

The misery of those that have not their sins forgiven, . 264 

God's favours are complete to his children, . . 265 

— ^ The loadstone of the soul is good, . . . 265 

How we may know blessings come from the love of God, . 266, 267 
The use of vows, ...... 268 

The use of a broken heart, .... 269, 270 

What the sacrifice of praise is, . . , . 270, 271 

Why lips are mentioned for praise, . . . 271 

Helps to praise God, ..... 271 

Doubting kills thankfulness, .... 272 

Assurance is the nurse of thanksgiving, . , . 273 

We should take advantage of our dispositions, . . 274 

Encouragements to praise God, .... 274-276 

How to know when praise is accepted, . . . 276 

Reformation must be joined with prayer, . . . 277 

True repentance is of the particular sin, . . . 277 

The creature cannot help of itself, . . . 278-281 

We are not to place our confidence in forces at home or abroad, 281 
War is lawful, ...... 281 

How we shall know when we exceed in confidence in the creature, 282 

-^ Boasting is idolatry, ..... 283 

The danger of carnal confidence, .... 284 

The emptiness of the creature, .... 284-286 
Men naturally prone to idolatry, .... 287-289 
Bitterness of sin causeth repentance, . . . 290 

Our affiance ought not to be upon the creature, but upon God, 291 
What religion is, . . . . . 291 

Why the world hates Christians, .... 291 

Mercy a most sweet object, .... 292, 293 

Why God shews mercy to the distressed, . . . 293-295 

Worldliness to be hated, ..... 296 

How to retort Satan's policy in our extremity, . . 296-299 

Where God gives a spirit of prayer he will answer, . 300 

Why we should come before God in prayer, . . 301 

That God's church and children are prone to backsliding, . 301-802 
How shall we know we are sick of this ? . . . 303 

Kepentance not to be delayed, .... 304 

Want of conviction makes us careless, . . . 304, 305 

God is willing to save us, .... 306-308 

The scope of the new covenant, .... 309, 810 
The greatest sin is to deny God the glory of his mercy, . 311 

An encouragement to search our sins deeply, . . 311 

How to know God hath pardoned our sins, . . 311-313 

Why carnal men are so quiet, . . . .313 

How to know the pardon of sin, . . . .313 

Why God suffers infirmities, .... 314 

Why the soul must be humbled, . . . .315 

How God loves freely, ..... 316-321 
God's anger against sin, ..... 322 




Repentance turns away God's anger, 

How anger felt may be removed, . 

How to know afflictions are not in wrath, though continued; 

That God hath a salve for every sore, 

God's love is a fruitful love, ... 

Why God's grace is compared to the dew, 

Grace comes insensibly and invisibly. 

How to come to have grace to sanctify and alter our nature 

Christians grow like lilies, ... 

The fii'st spring of the gospel was speedy, . 

Water every year turned into wine, 

Of a necessity in gi'owth, .... 

We must claim the promises, 

^Vhence comes the stability of God's children, 

Why God's children are not comfortable, . 

How to be rooted in grace, ... 

We must labour to know the promises, 

"Why Christians fear their estate is not good, 

The benefit of fruitfulness, 

The church yields a shadow, . . . 

The family the better for a good governor, 

God's children shall revive as corn, 

Christians compared to the vine in fruitfulness. 

Why Christians send forth so sweet a scent, 

A fruitful conversation very savoury, 

True renouncing of sin must be with indignation, . 

The soul's aim, ..... 

We must not only leave sin, but loathe sin. 

Limitation for expressing our hatred to sin. 

How we may come to hate sin, 

The consideration of what we are and hope to be will keep 

us in good temper, .... 
Of idolatry, ..... 

The reasons of Ephraim's hatred of idolatry. 
The idolatry of Christians, 
The scope of the new covenant. 
Corporal and spiritual adultery. 
Why we must not have any more to do with idols, 
Helps to hate sin, .... 

Nothing lost by renouncing idolatry. 
Never better with a Christian than when he hath renounced 

all wicked courses, .... 
How God sees the afflictions of his children. 
The most comfortable creature in the excess harmful. 
Renouncing idolatry brings protection. 
We are subject to scorchings here. 
The misery of those that have not God for a shadow, 
From man comes nothing that is good, 
Why some have more grace than others, . 
Against future fears, .... 

There are but few truly wise, 
Worldly wisdom, what it is, . . 



323, 324 









336. 337 

337. 338 

341, 342 

343, 344 














375, 376 


377, 378 







393, 394 

397, 398 



-^ True wisdom carries men to God's word, . . , 415 

God's ways to us, . . . . . 417 

The word of the Lord perfect, . . . . 41^ 

The best way to a right end is to take, in God's ways, . 420 

Who be just men, ..... 421 

The disposition of just men, .... 421,422 

Men must have spiritual life before they can walk, . . 425 

Helps to walk, ...... 427 

Why we should walk in God's ways, . . . 429-43B 

Notes, ....... 433-435 


Prefatory Note, ...... 438 

To the Reader, by Jackson, Nalton, and Taylor, . . 439-442 

An analytical table of the principal contents in these sermons, 

upon Isa. XXV. 7. 8, 9 :— 
The text — Ver. 6. — ' And in this mountain shall the Lord of 
hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of 
wines on the lees ; of fat things full of marrow, of wines on 
the lees well refined,' ..... 443—458 

Ver. 7. — ' And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the 
covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over 
all nations,' ...... 458-470 

Ver. 8. — ' He will swallow up death in victory ; and the Lord 
God will wipe away tears from off all faces ; and the rebuke 
of his people shall he take away from off all the earth : for 
the Lord hath spoken it,' ..... 470-499 

Ver, 9. — ' And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; 
we have waited for him, and he wiU save us : this is the 
Lord ; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice 
in his salvation,' ...... 499-517 

Coherence between the judgments threatened in the former 

chapter, and the comforts promised in this chapter, . 443 

The text opened, ...... 443-444 

The church is an excellent society, .... 444 

The church is a mountain, 1. hath strong foundations ; 2, is 

in some measure visible, ..... 444 

Of the marriage feast between Christ and his church, . 446 

The Lord of hosts is the founder of this feast, . . 446 

Some of all sorts invited to this feast, 1. Jews ; 2. Gentiles, 446 

Christ is the chief dish and gi-eatest cheer at this feast, . 446 

Christ and his benefits fitly compared to a feast, 1. because all 
we have in Christ is of the best things ; 2. much variety in 
Christ ; 3. fulness and sufficiency is to be had in Christ ; 
4, because there is much company here ; 5. there is rich 
attire worn at this feast, ..... 447, 448 


This gospel-feast was typed out, 1. by the Paschal Lamb ; 2. 

by manna ; 3. by the rock ; 4. by the Jewish festival, 449, 450 

A comparison between Christ and manna, . . . 450 

The sacrament of the Lord's supper is this feast specially, . 450 

We ought to be prepared for this feast, 1. get large hearts ; 2. 

spiritual appetite, ..... 450, 451 

Means to get spiritual appetite to this feast, 1. sense of sin ; 2. 
pm-ge the soul from sinful corruptions ; 3. spiritual exercise 
and activeuess for God ; 4. holy company ; 5. consideration 
of the danger of spiritual famine, .... 451—453 

We must get a spiritual taste and spiritual senses, 1. to relish 

what is good ; 2. to disrelish and reject what is evil, . 453, 454 

We must get a spiritual digestion, and wait in the strength of 

this heavenly feast, ..... 454 

Consequents of the gospel-feast are, 1. cheerfulness; 2. thank- 
fulness ; 3. justifying of the ways of God and rehgion, . 455, 456 
Religion doth not make people melancholy, . . . 456 

A Christian at his worst condition is better than a worldling's 

best, ....... 456 

We must labour to have a part and portion at this feast, and 

to honour' God's bounty, . . . . . 457 

We must bring empty souls unto this feast, . . . 458 

Connection between the sixth and seventh verse, . . 459 

Of the veil that is over men's hearts, . . . 469, 460 

All men naturally have such a veil, .... 460 

There is a veil over spiritual things, for they are hid, . 460 

Natural men, 1. want spiritual sight, hght ; 2. are ignorant ; 
3. see not spiritual things spiritually ; 4. have hght without 
heat ; 5. are unbehevers, . . ... 460-463 

Ignorance and unbelief acts in every sin, . , . 461 

God only can take away this veil, .... 464 

Men nor angels cannot remove it, . . , , 465 

Only God's people have this veU removed, . . . 465 

Where this veil is removed there is a feast, . . . 466 

We ought to use means to have this veil taken off, 1. by at- 
tending upon ordinances ; 2. by practising what we know ; 

3. by praymg unto God, ..... 466-468 
When the veil is taken off from the heart, then, 1. a Christian 

will wonder at the things of faith ; 2. desire more and more 
to know them ; 3. this veil hath been removed by the word ; 

4. a Christian's knowledge is a transforming knowledge, 469, 470 
Of death, and Christ's victory over death, . . . 471 
Death is, 1. the king of fears ; 2. spares none ; 3. is let in by 

sin ; 4. is attended on by hell, .... 471 

Christ swallows up death in victoiy, 1 . by satisfying for sin ; 

2. by his suffermg death, .... 472, 473 

We ought to beheve that death is conquered to us, . . 473 

We ought to be one with Christ cnicified, . . . 474 

We must be thankful unto God, 1. for victory over death ; 2. 

for benefits by death, ..... 475 

The slaAish fear of death is unbecoming a Christian, . •' . 475 

Death is conquered to a behever though he die,' . « 475 


Deatli is terrible to wicked men, 
Duellists foolishly out-brave death, . 
Death to God's children not only a conquered enemy, but is 
made a friend, ..... 

Of Christian's tears, .... 

Good men are apt to weep, 1. for sin of others ; 2. for mise 
ries of others, ..... 

We ought to weep, and yet to rejoice, 
God mil wipe away all tears, 
God is a God of tender mercy, 

Christians are not to be judged by appearance, and by their 
sufferings, ..... 

Christians have a mixed condition and a mixed disposition. 
There was no sorrow in paradise, and shall be none in heaven 
Sin is the greatest cause of sorrow, ... 
Mourning accepted from them that cannot weep. 
Then a Christian's tears are right, when, 1. they spring from 
the love of God ; 2. when we weep for our own sins ; 3 
when they are secret ; 4. Avhen they are reforming. 
Of the rebukes and reproaches of God's people, 
Christ and his members subject unto reproaches. 
Wicked reproach the godly from the enmity of the seeds. 
We must not be scandals to religion, nor scandahsed at the re 

proaches of it, . 
Christ will take away reproaches from his people ; and will 

vindicate them, . r . . . 

Directions how to carij om-selves under reproaches, 1. be 

patient ; 2. innocent ; 3. courageous ; 4. sincere ; 5. pray 

much to God ; 6. rejoice and glory in them. 

Of the Holy Scriptures, — God is the author of them. 

The Scriptures sole and supreme judge of controversies. 

The Scriptures may be known to be God's word by, 1. the ma 

jesty of them ; 2, their mysteriousness ; 3, from reason ; 4 

from experience ; 5. from the witness of the Spirit ; 6. fi'om 

their efficacy, (1.) in warning, (2.) changing, (3.) casting 

down, (4.) searching, (5.) and comforting the soul. 

The Holy Scriptures are, and have been, preserved from cor 

ruption, ...... 

We ought to hear the word as the word of God, 
God will make good all his promises, if we believe, . 
We must pray for the Spirit that indited the Scriptures, that 
so we may relish them, .... 

Of God's promises, and the performance of them, 

God's promises are full and free, and spring from his bounty 

and are our greatest treasuro. 
We ought to be ashamed of infidelity in God's promises, 
It is sometimes long between the promise and performance, 1 
to exercise our faith ; 2. to wean us from creatures ; 3. to 
endear the thing promised; 4. and to fit us for the enjoy 
ment, ...... 

Of waiting upon God, . . . • 

We have but a taste here of what we shall have hereafter, 

475, 47G 




480, 481 

481, 482 

484, 485 

486, 487 



489, 490 

490, 491 


493, 494 

494, 495 



499, 500 




Waiting carries with it all other graces, 1. patience ; 2. long- 
sufiering ; 3. contentment ; 4. silence from murmuring ; 5. 
■watchfulness ; 6. faithfulness, .... 502 

Want of waiting cause of much wickedness, . . . 502 

All is overcome with waiting, .... 503, 504 

God will perform his words to all true waiters, . . 504 

God keeps the time of performance in his own hands, . 504 

God fully performs his promises in heaven, . . . 505 

The things hoped for uphold the heart in waiting, . . 506 

God will have his people continue waiting, 1. that they may 
live by faith, and not by sight ; 2. when we are fitted for 
what is promised, we shall then enjoy it ; 3. God will have 
us have the best at last, ..... 506-508 

As there is a time of our waiting, so there will be a time of 

God's performance, ..... 509 

The present gi'ace we have is an earnest of what we shall have, 510 

Encouragements to wait upon God, 1. God's time is best, and 
it is set ; 2. God will efiect the thing promised, though by 
contraries, ...... 510 

What we should do when God hath performed promise, 1. be 

thankful to the Lord ; 2. be joyful in the Lord, . . 511, 512 

Interest in God is the cause of all our joy, . . . 512-517 

Notes, . . . . . . . 517, 518 


The expository sermons which compose the treatise, entitled, in the quaint phrase- 
'Ology of the age, ' Bowels Opened,' (no doubt derived from the Hebraic idea of the 
seat of the affections being in the ' bowels,' Cant. v. 4 ; and compare 1 John iii. 
17) passed through three editions, as follows : — 
(a) 1st edition, 4to, 1639. 

(6) 2d edition, 4to, 1641. There is no intimation of its being a ' 2d edition ;' but 
Lt really was so. The pagination is wholly different from a. 

(c) 3d edition, 4to, 1648. This is designated ' 3d edition,' and the pagination 
differs from a and b. Prefixed to it is a portrait of Sibbes, cetat 58. Underneath it 
are these lines, without signature or initial : 

' Thy learning, meekness, wisedome, heavenly minde, 
Soe full of love, soe zealous, soe discreete. 
Thy works, ye Church, yea Heaven, where they doe finde 
A crowne — declare, for earth they were not meete. 
Whoe, slighting thee, himselfe preferrs before, 
Let him gett to thee, — he shall then know more.' 
Our text follows a, with comparison of b and c for correction of misprints. ItB 
title-page is given below.* G. 

• Original title page : — 





Neere and deere Love, Union and 

Communion betivixt Christ and the 

Church, and consequently betwixt 

Him and every beleeving soul. 

Delivered in divers Serrrons on the Fourth Fifth 

and Sixt Chapters of the Canticles. 

By that Eeverend and FaithfuU Minister of the 

Word, Doctor Sibs, late Preacher unto 

the Honourable Societie of Grayes Inne, and Master 

of Katharine Hall in Cambridge. 

Being in part finished by his owne pen in his life 

time, and the rest of them perused and corrected 

by those whom he intrusted with the 

publishing of his works. 


Thou hast ravished my heart, my Sister, my Spouse : thou hast 

ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, and with one chaine of 

thy necke. 


Piinted by G.3I. for George Edwards in the Old Baily in 

Greene-Arbour at the signe of the Angell, MDCXXXIX.f 

t It may be noted that Obadiah Sedgwick's famous folio on ' The Covenants,* 
(1661) is entitled, 'The Bowels of Tender Mercy Sealed in the Everlasting Covenant.' 
Thomas Willocks and Faithfial Teat have similarly quaintly-titled treatises on 'Can- 
ticles.' This book seems to have had a special attraction for the Puritan Divines. 








Thomas Goodwin, f 
Philippus Nte. I 

* For full and interesting notices of this great historic name, consult Burke, and 
any of the ' Peerages ;' also the recently issued family papers at Kimbolton, by 
the present Duke of Manchester. He was the patron and beloved friend of John 
Howe. — G. 

t The celebrated Dr Thomas Goodwin, who discharged the office of ' prefacer ' 
or editor for many of his Puritan contemporaries, e.g., besides Sibbcs, Burroughes, 
and Hooker. Cf. Memoir by Dr Halley. — G. 

X Philip Nye was one of the foremost men in the great Puritan struggle. He 
died in 1672. Cf. ' Nonconf. Memorial,' i. 95, 96; and Hanburg's 'Historical 
Memorials relating to the Independents,' throughout the work. — G. 


The perusal of tliis book being committed unto me by an ancient and a 
faithful friend of mine, I found it, I confess, so full of heavenly treasure, 
and such lively expressions of the invaluable riches of the love of Christ 
towards all his poor servants that sue and seek unto him, that I sent unto 
the godly and learned author, earnestly entreating him to publish the same, 
judging it altogether unmeet that so precious matter should be concealed 
from public use : when he excused himself, by undervaluing his own 
meditations ; but withal signified his desire of the church's good, if by 
anything in his works it might never so little be promoted. I could not 
but declare myself in recommending this treatise as a very profitable and 
excellent help both to the understanding of that dark and most divine 
Scripture, and also to kindle in the heart all heavenly afiections unto 
Jesus Christ. 

It is well known how backward I am and ever have been to cumber the 
press, but yet I would not be guilty in depriving the dear children of God 
of the spiritual and sweet consolations which are here very plentifully 
offered unto them. 

And the whole frame of all these sermons is carried with such vdsdom, 
gravity, piety, judgment, and experience, that it commends itself unto all 
that are godly wise ; and I doubt not but that they shall find their temp- 
tations answered, their fainting spirits revived, their understandings en- 
lightened, and their graces confirmed, so as they shall have cause to praise 
God for the worthy author's godly and painful labours. And thus desiring 
the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort to bless this work to 
the consolation and edification of those that seek his favour and desire to 
fear his holy name, I rest 

Thine in Jesus Christ, 

J[ohn] Dod.* 

* John Dod is one of the most venerable of Puritan ' worthies.' He lived to a 
« great age.' Born in 1549, he died in 1645. Consult Brook (' Lives of the Puri- 
tans,' vol. iii. pp. 1-6) ; also Clark (' Lives of Thirty-two English Divines,' folio, 
1677, pp. 168-178).— G. 




I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: 1 have eaten my honey- 
comb with my honey; I have drunk my ivine with my milk: eat, 
friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, beloved. — Cant. V. 1. 

Otheb books of Solomon lie more obvious and open to common under- 
standing ; but, as none entered into the boly of holies but the high priest, 
Lev. xvi. 2, seq., and Heb. ix. 7, so none can enter into the mystery of this 
Song of songs, but such as have more near communion with Christ. Songs, 
and specially marriage songs, serve to express men's own joys, and others' 
praises. So this book contains the mutxial joys and mutual praises betwixt 
Christ and his church. 

And as Christ and his church are the greatest persons that partake of 
human nature, so whatsoever is excellent in the whole world is boiTowed 
to set out the excellencies of these two gi'eat lovers. 

It is called ' Solomon's Song,' who, next unto Christ, was the greatest 
son of wisdom that ever the church bred, whose understanding, as it was 
' largo as the sand of the sea,' 1 Kings iv. 29, so his affections, especially 
that of love, were as large, as we may see by his many wives, and by the 
delight he sought to take in whatsoever nature could afford. Which affec- 
tion of love, in him misplaced, had been his undoing, but that he was one 
beloved of God, who by his Spirit raised his soul to lovely objects of a 
higher nature. Here in this argument there is no danger for the deepest 
wit, or the largest affection, yea, of a Solomon, to overreach. For the 
knowledge of the love of Christ to his church is above all knowledge, Eph. 
iii. 19. The angels themselves may admire it, though they cannot com- 
prehend it. It may well, therefore, he called the ' Song of Solomon ;' the 
most excellent song of a man of the highest conceit* and deepest appre- 
hension, and of the highest matters, the intercourse betwixt Christ, the hiyhest 
Lord of lords, and his best beloved contracted spouse. 

There are divers things in this song that a corrupt heart, unto which aU 
things are defiled, may take offence ; but * to the pure all things are pure,' 
Titus i. 15. Such a sinful abuse of this heavenly book is far from the inten- 
tion of the Holy Ghost in it, which is b}' stooping low to us, to take 
• That is, ' imagination.' — Q. 


advantage to raise us higher unto him, that by taking advantage of the sweet- 
est passage of our life, maniage, and the most delightful affection, love, in 
the sweetest manner of expression, by a song, he might carry up the soul 
to things of a heavenly nature. We see in summer that one heat weakens 
another ; and a great light being near a httle one, draws away and obscures 
the flame of the other. So it is when the affections are taken up higher to 
their fit object ; they die unto all earthly things, whilst that heavenly 
flame consumes and wastes all base affections and earthly desires. Amongst 
other ways of mortification, there be two remarkable — 

1. By embittering all earthly things unto tis, whereby the affections are 
deaded* to them. 

2. By shewing more noble, excellent, and fit objects, that the soul, issuing 
more largely and strongly into them, may be diverted, and so by degrees die 
unto other things. The Holy Spirit hath chosen this way in this song, by 
elevating and raising our affections and love, to take it off from other things, 
that so it might run in its right channel. It is pity that a sweet stream should 
not rather run into a garden than into a puddle. "What a shame is it that 
man, having in him such excellent affections as love, joy, delight, should cleave 
to dirty, base things, that are worse than himself, so becoming debased like 
them ! Therefore the Spirit of God, out of mercy and pity to man, would raise 
up his affections, by taking comparison from earthly things, leading to higher 
matters, that only deserve love, joy, delight, and admiration. Let God's 
stooping to us occasion our rising up unto him. For here the greatest things, 
the ' mystery of mysteries,' the communion betwixt Christ and his church, is 
set out in the familiar comparison of a marriage, that so we might the bet- 
ter see it in the glass of comparison, which we cannot so directly conceive 
of ; as we may see the sun in water, whose beams we cannot so directly 
look upon. Only our care must be not to look so much on the colours as the 
picture, and not so much on the picture as on the person itself represented ; 
that we look not so much to the resemblance as to the person resembled.f 

Some would have Solomon, by a spirit of prophecy, to take a view here 
of all the time, fi-om his age to the second coming of Christ, and in this 
song, as in an abridgment, to set down the several passages and periods of 
the church in several ages, as containing divers things which are more cor- 
respondent to one age of the church than another {a). But howsoever this 
song may contain, we deny not, a story of the church in several ages, yet 
this hinders not, but that most passages of it agree to the spii'itual estate 
of the church in every age, as most intei-preters have thought. In this 
song there is, 

1 . A strong desire of the church of nearer communion with Christ ; and then, 

2. Some declining again in affection. 

3. After this we have her recovery and regaining again of love ; after which, 

4. The church falls again into a declining of affection; whereupon follows 
r further strangeness of Christ to her than before, which continues until, 

5. That the church, perceiving of Christ's constant affection unto her, 
notwithstanding her unkind dealing, recovers, and cleaves faster to Christ 
than ever , chap. iii. 

These passages agree to the experience of the best Christians in the state 
of their own lives. This observation must carry strength through this 
whole song, that there is the same regard of the whole church, and of every 
particxdar member, in regard of the chiefest 2mvileges and graces that accom- 
yany salvation. There is the same reason of every drop of water as of the 
* That is, 'deadened.' — G. f That is, 'represented.' — G. 

Cant. IY. 16. J * awake, o north wind ! ' "^ 

whole ocean, all is water; and of eveiy spark of fire as of the whole element 
of fire, all is fire. Of those homogeneal bodies, as wo call them, there is 
the same respect of the part and of the whole. And therefore, as the whole 
chm'ch is the spouse of Christ, so is every particular Christian ; and as the 
whole church desires still nearer communion with Christ, so doth every parti- 
cular member. But to come to the words, ' I am come into my gai'den,' &c. 

This chapter is not so well broken and divided from the former as it 
might have been, for it were better and more consequent* that the last verse 
of the former chapter were added to the beginning of this. 

' Awake, north wind; and come, thou south ; blow npon my garden, that 
the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat 
his pleasant fruits,' Cant. iv. IG. 

And therefore, by reason of connection of this chapter with the former 
verse, we will first speak somewhat of it briefly, only to make way for that 
which follows. The words contain — 

1. A turning of Christ's speech to the tvinds to blow upon his garden, with 
the end why, ' that the spices thereof may flow out.' 

2. We have an invitation of Christ, by the church, to come into his garden, 
with the end, ' to eat his pleasant fruits.' 

Quest. It may be a question whether this command be the words of 
Christ or the desire of his spouse ? 

Ans. The words are spoken by Christ, because he calls it '7ny garden/ 
and the church after invites him to eat of ' his pleasant fruits,' not of hers. 
Yet the words may be likewise an answer to a former secret desire of the 
church, v^hereof the order is this : The chm'ch being sensible of some dead- 
ness of spirit, secretly desires some further quickening. Christ then answers 
those desires by commanding the winds to blow upon her. For oi'dinarily 
Christ first stirs up desires, and then answers the desires of his own Spirit 
by further increase, as here, ' Awake, thou north wind ; and come, thou 
south ; and blow upon my garden,' &c. 

1. For the first point named, we see here that Christ sends forth his 
Spirit, with command to all means, under the name of ' north and south 
wind,' to fui-ther the fruitfulness of his church. The wind is nature's fan. 
What winds are to the garden, that the Spirit of Christ, in the use of 
means, is to the soul. From comparison fetched from Christ's command- 
ing the winds, we may in general observe, that all creatures stand in obedience 
to Christ, as ready at a icord, xvliensoever he speaks to them. They are all, as 
it were, asleep until he awakes them. He can call for the wind out of his 
treasures when he pleases : he holds them in his fist, Prov. xxx. 4. 

Use. Which may comfort all those that are Christ's, that they are under 
one that hath all creatures at his beck under him to do them service, and 
at his check to do them no hann. This drew the disciples in admiration 
to say, * What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the seas 
obey him ? ' Mat. viii. 27. And cannot the same power still the winds and 
waves of the churches and states, and cause a sudden calm, if, as the dis- 
ciples, we awake him with om* prayers. 

2. Secondly, we see here that Christ speaks to ivinds contrary one to 
another, both in regard of the coasts from whence they blow, and in their 
quality ; but both agree in this, that both are necessary for the garden : 
where we see that the courses that Christ takes, and the means that he nses 
with his church, may seem contrary ; but by a wise ordering, all agree in the 
wholesome issue. A prosperous and an afflicted condition are contrary ; a. 

• That is, ' in sequence.' — G. 


mild and a sharp course may seem to cross one another ; yet sweetly they 
agree in this, that as the church needeth both, so Clirist useth both for the 
chm-ch's good. The north is a nipping wind, and the south a cherishing 
wind ; therefore the south wind is the welcomer and sweeter after the north 
wind hath blown. But howsoever, all things are ours : * Paul, ApoUos, 
Cephas, things present and to come, life, death,' &c., 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22; 
' all things work together for good to us, being in Christ,' Rom. viii. 28. 

Use 1. Hence it is that the manifold wisdom of Christ maketh use of such 
variety of conditions ; and hence it is that the Spirit of Christ is mild in 
some men's ministries, and sharp in others : nay, in the very same 
minister, as the state of the soul they have to deal withal requires. 

Use 2. Sometimes, again, the })eople of God need purging, and sometimes 
refreshing. Whereupon the Spirit of God carries itself suitably to both 
conditions ; and the Spirit in the godly themselves draws good out of every 
condition, sure [as] they are that all winds blow them good, and [that] 
were it not for their good, no winds should blow upon them. But in 
regard that these times of ours, by long peace and plenty, grow cold, heavy, 
and secure, we need therefore all kinds of winds to blow upon us, and all 
little enough. Time was when we were more quick and lively, but now the 
heat of our spirits is* abated. We must therefore take heed of it, and 
* quicken those things that are ready to die,' Rev. iii. 2 ; or else, instead of 
the north and south wind, God will send an east wind that shall dry up all, 
as it is, Hos. xiii. 15. 

Use 3. Again, if Christ can raise or lay, bind up or let loose, all kind of 
winds at his pleasure, then if means be wanting or fruitless, it is he that 
says to the clouds. Drop not, and to the winds. Blow not. Therefore, tve 
must acknowledge him in icant or plenty of means. The Spirit of Christ in 
the use of means is a free agent, sometimes blows strongly, sometimes 
more mildly, sometimes not at all. No creature hath these winds in a bag 
at command, and therefore it is wisdom to yield to the gales of the Spirit. 
Though in some other things, as Solomon observes, it may hinder to 
observe the winds, Eccles. xi. 4, yet here it is necessary and profitable to 
observe the winds of the Spirit. 

Now, for the clear understanding of what we are to speak of, let us first 
observe — 

1. Why the Spirit of God, in the use of the means, is compared to wind. 
And then, 

2. Why the church is compared to a garden ; which shall be handled in 
the proper place. 

But first for the wind. 

1. ' The wind bloweth where it listeth,' as it is John iii. 8. So the 
Spuit of God blows freely, and openeth the heart of some, and poureth 
grace plentifully in them. 

2. The wind, especially the north wind, hath a cleansing force. So the 
Spirit of God purgeth our hearts ' from dead works to serve the living 
God, making us partakers of the divine nature,' 2 Pet. i. 4. 

3. The wind disperseth and scattereth clouds, and makes a serenity in the 
air. So doth the Spirit disperse such clouds as corruption and Satan raise 
up in the soul, that we may clearly see the face of God in Jesus Christ. 

* It is printed ' are.' But such inaccuracy is not uncommon in Sibbes and liia 
contemporaries. If the nearer noun be plural, it, and not the nominative proper, 
regulates the use of the verb. This remark is made once for all, that apparent mis- 
prints may not be placed to oversight. — G. 


4. The wind hath a cooling and a tempcrinrj quality, and tempers the dis- 
temper of nature. As in some hot countries there be yearly anniversary 
mnds, which blow at certain times in summer, tempering the heat ; so the 
Spirit of God allaycth the uunatm^al heats of the soul in fiery temptations, 
and bringeth it into a good temper. 

5. The wind being subtle, searcheth into evenj corner and cranny. So the 
Spirit likewise is of a searching nature, and discemeth betwixt the joints 
and the marrow, betwixt the flesh and the Spirit, &c., searching those 
hidden coiTuptions, that nature could never have found out. 

6. The wind hath a cherishing and a fructifying force. So the Spirit is a 
quickening and a cherishing Spirit, and maketh the heart, which is as a 
barren wilderness, to be fruitful. 

7. The wind hath a power of conveying siceet smells in the air, to carry 
them from one to another. So the Spirit in the word conveyeth the seeds 
of grace and comfort from one to another. It draws out what sweetness is 
in the spirits of men, and makes them fragrant and deUghtful to others. 

8. The wind, again, bears doivn all before it, beats down houses, and trees, 
like the cedars in Lebanon, turns them up by the roots, and lays all flat. 
So the Spirit is mighty in operation. There is no standing before it. 
It brings down mountains, and every high thing that exalts itself, and lays 
them level ; nay, the Koman and those other mighty empires could not 
stand before it. 

For these respects and the like, the * blowing of the Spu-it ' is compared 
to wind. For which end Christ here commands the wind to ' blow upon 
his garden.' 

1. To blow, &c. See here the order, linking, and concatenation of things 
one under another. To the prospering of a poor flower or plant in a garden, 
not only soil is needful, but air and wind also, and the influence of heaven ; 
and God commanding all, as here the winds to blow upon his garden. To 
this end, as a wonderful mercy to his people, it is said, ' And it shall come 
to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord : I will hear the heavens, 
and they shall hear the earth ; and the earth shall hear the com, the wine, and 
the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel,' Hos. ii. 21, 22. As the creatures are 
from God, so the order and dependence of creatures one from another, to 
teach us not only what to pray for, but also what to pray fitly for ; not 
only to pray for the dew of heaven, but also for seasonable and cherishing 
winds. It is not the soil, but the season, that makes fruitful, Kon ager sed 
annus facit frudus, and that fi'om seasonable winds and influences. So 
in spiritual things there is a chain of causes and cfl'ects : prayer comes from 
faith, Rom. x. li ; faith from the hearing of the word ; hearing from a 
preacher, by whom God by his Spirit blows upon the heart ; and a preacher 
from God's sending. If the God of nature should but hinder and take 
away one link of nature's chain, the whole frame would be disturbed. 
Well, that which Chi-ist commands here, is for the winds to ' blow upon 
his garden." 

And we need blowing : our spirits will be becalmed else, and stand at a 
stay ; and Satan will be sm-e by himself, and such as are his bellows, to 
blow up the seeds of sinful lusts in us. For there are two spirits in the 
chm"ch, the one always blowing against the other. Therefore, the best had 
need to be stin-ed up ; otherwise, with Moses, Exod. xvii, 12, their hands 
will be ready to fiiU down, and abate in their aflbction. Therefore we 
need blowing — 

1 . In regard of our natural inability. 


2. In regard of our dulness and heaviness, cleaving to nature occasionally. 

8. In regard of contrary winds from without. 

Satan hath his bellows filled with his spirit, that hinders the work of 
grace all they can ; so that we need not only Christ's blowing, but also his 
stopping other contrary winds, that they blow not, Kev. vii. 1. 

4. In regard of the estate and condition of the new Covenant, wherein 
all beginning, growth, and ending, is from gi-ace, and nothing but grace. 

5. Because old grace, without a fresh supply, will not liold against new 
crosses and temptations. 

Use. Therefore when Christ di'aws, let us run after him ; when he blows, 
let us open unto him. It may be the last blast that ever we shall have 
from him. And let us set upon duties with this encouragement, that Christ 
wiU blow upon us, not only to prevent us, but also to maintain his own 
graces in us. But ! where is this stirring up of ourselves, and one 
another, upon these gi'ounds ! 

Quest. But, tvJuj is the church compared to a garden ? 

Ans. Chi-ist herein takes all manner of terms to express himself and the 
state of the church, as it is to him, to shew us that wheresoever we are, 
we may have occasion of heavenly thoughts, to raise up our thoughts to 
higher matters. His church is his ' temple,' when we are in the temple ; 
it is a ' field' when we are there ; a ' garden,' if we walk in a garden. It is 
also a ' spouse' and a ' sister,' &c. But more particularly the church is 
resembled to a garden. 

1. Because a garden is taken out of the common waste ground, to he appro- 
priated to a more particular vjse. So the church of Christ is taken out of 
the wilderness of this waste world, to a particular use. It is in respect of 
the rest, as Goshen to Egypt, Exod. ix. 26, wherein light was, v/hen aU 
else was in darkness. And indeed wherein doth the chm^ch differ from other 
grounds, but that Christ hath taken it in ? It is the same soil as other 
grounds are ; but, he dresseth and fits it to bear spices and herbs. 

2. In a garden nothing comes up naturalhj of itself, but as it is planted 
and set. So nothing is good in the heart, but as it is planted and set by 
the heavenly husbandman, John xv. 4 ; and Mat. xv. 3. We need not sow 
the wilderness, for the seeds of weeds prosper naturally. The earth is a 
mother to weeds, but a stepmother to herbs. So weeds and passions grow 
too rank naturally, but nothing grows in the church of itself, but as it is 
set by the hand of Christ, who is the author, dresser, and pruner of his 

3. Again, in a garden nothing uses to he p)lanted but ivhat is useful and 
delightful. So there is no grace in the heart of a Christian, but it is useful, 
as occasion serves, both to God and man. 

4. Further, in a garden there are variety of floicers and spices, especially 
in those hot countries. So in a Christian, there is somewhat of every grace. 
As some cannot hear of a curious flower, but they will have it in their 
garden, so a Christian cannot hear of any grace but he labours to obtain it. 
They labour for graces for all seasons, and occasions. They have for pros- 
perity, temperance and sobriety ; for adversity, patience and hope to sus- 
tain them. For those that are above them, they have respect and obedience ; 
and for those under them, suitable usage in all conditions of Christianity. 
For the Spirit of God in them is a seminary of spiritual good things. As 
in the corruption of nature, before the Spirit of God came to us, there was 
the seminary of all ill weeds in us, so when there is a new quality and new 
principles put in us, therewith comes the seeds of all graces. 

Cant. IY. 1G.] ' BLovr- uroN my gaeden.' 11 

5. Again, of all other places, ive most delir/ht in our (jardens to ivalh there 
and take our pleasure, and take caro thereof, for fencing, weeding, watering, 
and planting. So Christ's chief care and delight is for his church. He 
walks in the midst of the ' seven golden candlesticks,' Kev. ii. 1 ; and if he 
defend and protect States, it is that they may be a harbour to his church. 

G. And then again, as in gardens there had wont to have fount ains and 
streams uhich run throui/h their gardens, (as paradise hadfom* streams which 
ran through it); so the church is Christ's paradise ; and his Spirit is a 
spring in the midst of it, to refresh the souls of his upon all their faintings, 
and so the soul of a Christian becomes as a watered garden. 

7. So also, ' their fountains were sealed up,' Cant. iv. 12 ; so the joys 
of the church and particular Christians arc, as it were, sealed up. A stranger, 
it is said, ' shall not meddle with this joy of the church,' Prov. siv. 10. 

8. Lastly, a t/arden stands always in need of weeding and dressing. Con- 
tinual labour and cost must be bestowed upon it ; sometimes planting, 
pruning, and weeding, &c. So in the church and hearts of Christians, 
Christ hath always somewhat to do. We would else soon be overgrown 
and turn wild. In all which, and the Hke respects, Christ calleth upon the 
winds ' to blow upon his garden.' 

Use 1. If then the church be a severed portion, then we should icalk as 
vicn of a severed condition from the tcorld, not as men of the world, but as 
Christians ; to make good that we are so, by feeling the gi-aces of God's 
Spirit in some comfortable measure, that so Christ may have something in 
us, that he may dehght to dwell with us, so to be subject to his pruning 
and dressing. For, it is so for from being an ill sign, that Christ is at cost*- 
with us, in following us with afflictions, that it is rather a sure sign of his 
love. For, the care of this blessed husbandman is to prune us, so as to 
make us fruitful. Men care not for heath and wilderness, whereupon they 
Mestow no cost. So when God primes us by crosses and afflictions, and 
Eows good seed in us, it is a sign he means to dwell with us, and delight 
in us. 

2. And then also, we should not strive so much for common liberties of 
the world that common people delight in, but for 2J£culiar graces, that God 
maj' delight in us as his garden. 

3. And then, let us learn hence, 7wt to despise any nation or 2'>^>'soJi, 
seeing God can take out of the waste wilderness whom he will, and make 
the desert an Eden. 

4. Again, let ?<s bless God for ourselves, that our lot hath fallen into such 
a pleasant place, to be planted in the church, the place of God's delight. 

5. iVnd this also should move us to be fruitful. For men will endure a 
fruitless tree in the waste wilderness, but in their garden who will endure it ? 
Dignity should mind us of duty. It is strange to be fruitless and barren in this 
place that we live in, being watered with the dew of heaven, under the sweetin- 
fluence of the means. This fruitless estate being often watered from heaven, 
how fearfully is it threatened by the Holy Ghost, that ' it is near unto cursing 
and burning,' Heb. vi. 8. For in this case, visible churches, if they pros- 
per not, God will remove the hedge, and lay them waste, having a garden 
elsewhere. Sometimes God's plants prosper better in Babylon, than in 
Judea. It is to be feared God may complain of us, as he doth of his people, 
' I have planted thee a noble \ine ; how art thou then come to be degenerated ?' 
Jer. ii. 21. If in this case we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will 
not regard the best thing that comes from us, as our prayers, Heb. sii. 17. 

* That is, ' expeusc' — G. 


We must then learn of himself, how and wherein to please him. Obedience 
from a broken heart is the best sacrifice. Mark in [the] Scriptures what he 
abhors, what he delights in. We use to say of our friends. Would God I 
knew how to please them. Christ teacheth us, that ' without faith it is 
impossible to please him,' Heb. xi. 6. Let us then strive and labour to be 
fruitful in our places and callings. For it is the greatest honoui- in this 
world, for God to dignify us with such a condition, as to make us fruitful. 

* We must not bring forth fruit to ourselves,' as God complains of Ephraim, 
[Israel], Hos. x. 1. Honour, riches, and the like, are but secondary things, 
arbiti'ary at God's pleasure to cast in ; but, to have an active heart fruitful 
from this ground, that God hath planted us for this purpose, that we may 
do good to mankind, this is an excellent consideration not to profane our 
calling. The blessed man is said to be, ' a tree planted by the water side, 
that brings forth fruit in due season,' Ps, i. 3. But it is not every fruit ; 
not that fruit which Moses complains of, Deut. xxxii. 32, the wine of dragons, 
and the gall of asps : but good fruit, as John speaks ; ' Every tree that 
bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire,' Mat. 
iii. 10. 

6. Lastly, in that the church is called Christ's garden, this may strengthen 
our faith in God's care and protection. The church may seem to lie open to 
all incursions, but it hath an invisible hedge about it, a wall without it, and 
a well within it, Zech. ii. 5. God himself is a wall of fire about it, and his 
Spirit a well of living waters running through it to refresh and comfort it. 
As it was said of Canaan, so it may be said of the church, ' The eye of the 
Lord is upon it all the year long,' Deut. xi. 12, and he waters it continually. 
From which especial care of God over it, this is a good plea for us to God, 

• I am thine, save me ;' I am a plant of thine own setting ; nothing is in me 
but what is thine, therefore cherish what is thine. So, for the whole 
church the plea is good : ' The church is thine ; fence it, water it, defend it, 
keep the wild boar out of it.' Therefore the enemies thereof shall one day 
know what it is to make a breach upon God's vineyard. In the mean time, 
let us labour to keep our hearts as a garden, that nothing that defileth may 
•enter. In which respects the church is compared to a garden, upon which 
Christ commands the north and south wind, all the means of gi'ace, to blow. 

But to u'hat end must these ivinds blow upon the garden ? 

' That the spices thereof may flow out.' 

The end of this blowing is, you see, ' that the spices thereof may flow 
out.' Good things in us lie dead and bound up, unless the Spirit let them 
out. We ebb and flow, open and shut, as the Spirit blows upon us ; with- 
out blowing, no flowing. There were gracious good things in the church, 
but they wanted blowing up and further spreading, whence we may observe, 

Obs. 1. We need not only grace to j^ut life into lis at the first, but likeivise grace 
to quicken and draw forth that grace that ice have. This is the difference be- 
twixt man's blowing and the Spirit's. Man, when he blows, if grace be not 
there before, spends all his labour upon a dead coal, which he cannot make 
take fire. But the Spirit first kindles a holy fire, and then increases the 
flame. Christ had in the use of means wrought on the church before, and 
now further promoteth his own work. Wo must first take in, and then 
send out; first be cisterns to contain, and then conduits to convey. The 
wind first blows, and then the spices of the chui'ch flow out. We are first 
sweet in ourselves, and then sweet to others. 

Obs. 2. Whence we see further, that it is not enough to be good in our 

Cant. IV. 16.J * Tn.\T the spices thereof may flow out.' 13 

selves, but our fjooduess must /Ion- out ; that is, grow more strong, useful to 
continue and stream forth for the good of others. We must labour to be, as 
was said of John, burning and shining Christians, John v. 35. For Chi*ist 
is not like a box of ointment shut up and not opened, but like that box of 
ointment that Mary poured out, which perfumes all the whole house with the 
sweetness thereof. For the Spirit is herein like wind ; it carries the sweet 
savour of grace to others. A Christian, so soon as he finds any rooting in 
God, is of a spreading disposition, and makes the places he lives in the better 
for him. The whole body is the better for every good member, as we see in 
Onesimus, Phil. 11. The meanest persons, when they become good, are 
useful and profitable ; of briars, become flowers. The very naming of a 
good man casts a sweet savour, as presenting some grace to the heart of the 
hearer. For then we have what we have to purpose, when others have occa- 
sion to bless God for us, for conveying comfort to them by us. And for our 
furtherance herein, therefore, the winds are called upon to awake and blow 
upon Christ's garden, ' that the spices thereof may flow out.' 

Obs. 3. Hence we see, also, that ivhere once God begins, he goes on, and de- 
lights to add encouragement to encouragement, to maintain new setters vp in re- 
ligion, and doth not only give them a stock of gi'ace at the beginning, but 
also helps them to trade. He is not only Alpha, but Omega, unto them, 
the beginning and the ending, Rev. i. 8. He doth not only plant graces, but 
also watereth and cherisheth them. Where the Spirit of Christ is, it is an 
encouraging Spirit; for not only it infuseth grace, but also stirs it up, that 
we may be ready prepared for every good work, otherwise we cannot do that 
which we are able to do. The Spirit must bring all into exercise, else the 
habits of gi-ace will lie asleep. We need a present Spirit to do evciy good; 
not only the power to will, but the will itself; and not only the will, but the 
deed, is from the Spirit, which should stir us up to go to Christ, that he may 
stir up his own graces in us, that they may flow out. 

Use. Let us labour, then, in ourselves to be full of goodness, that so we 
may be fitted to do good to all. As God is good, and does good to all, so 
must we strive to be as like him as may be ; in which case, for others' sakes, 
we must pray that God would make the winds to blow out fully upon us, 
* that our spices may flow out ' for their good. For a Christian in his right 
temper thinks that he hath nothing good to purpose, but that which does 
good to others. 

Thus far of Christ's command to the north and south wind to awake and 
blow upon his garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. In the next 
place we have — • 

II. Christ's invitation by the church to come into his garden, with the 
end thereof,' to eat his pleasant fruits.' 

Which words shew the church's fwiher desire of Christ's jnesence to de- 
light in the graces of his oun Spirit in her. She invites him to come and 
take delight in the graces of his own Spirit; and she calls him ' Beloved,' 
because all her love is, or should be, imparted and spent on Christ, who 
gave himself to a cursed death for her. Our love should run in strength no 
other way, therefore the chm-ch calls Christ her ' Beloved.' Christ was 
there before, but she desires a further presence of him, whence we may ob- 
serve, that 

Wheresoever grace is truly begun and stirred up, there is still a further desire 
of Christ's presence ; and approaching daily more and more near to the soul, 
iha church thinks liim never near enough to her until she be in heaven with 


him. The true spouse and the bride always, unless in desertion and temp- 
tation, crieth, ' Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly,' Rev. xxii. 20. Now, 
these degrees of Christ's approaches to the soul, until his second coming, are, 
that he may manifest himself more and more in defending, comforting, and 
enabling his church with grace. Every further manifestation of his presence 
is a further coming. 

Quest. But why is the church thus earnest ? 

Reason 1. First, because grace helps to see our need of Christ, and so helps 
US to prize him the more ; which high esteem breeds a hungering, earnest 
desire after him, and a desire of further likeness and suitableness to him. 

Secondly, because the church well knows that when Christ comes to the 
soul he comes not alone, but with his Sjnrlt, and his Spirit tcith abundance of 
peace and comfort. This she knows, what need she hath of his presence, 
that without him there is no comfortable living ; for wheresoever he is, he 
makes the soul a kind of heaven, and all conditions of life comfortable. 

Use. Hence we may see that those that do not desire the presence of 
Christ in his ordinances are, it is to be feared, such as the wind of the Holy 
Ghost never blew upon. There are some of such a disposition as they 
cannot endm-e the presence of Christ, such as antichrist and his limbs,* 
whom the presence of Christ in his ordinances blasts and consumes. Such 
are not only profane and worldly persons, but proud hypocrites, who glory 
in something of theu' own ; and therefore their hearts rise against Christ and 
his ordinances, as laying open and shaming their emptiness and carnalness. 
The Spirit in the spouse is always saying to Christ, * Come.' It hath never 
enough of him. He was now in a sort present ; but the church, after it is 
once blov,'n upon, is not satisfied without a further presence. It is from 
the Spirit that we desire more of the Spirit, and from the presence of Christ 
that we desire a further presence and communion with him. Now, 

The end and reason ichy Christ is desired hj the Church to come into his 
garden is ' to eat his pleasant fruits ; ' that is, to give him contentment. 
And is it not fit that Christ should eat the fruit of his own vine ? have com- 
fort of his own garden ? to taste of his own fruits ? The only delight Christ 
hath in the world is in his garden, and that he might take the more delight 
in it, he makes it fruitful ; and those fruits are precious fruits, as growing 
from plants set by his own hand, relishing of his own Spirit, and so fitted 
for his taste. Now, the church, knowing what fitted Christ's taste best, 
and knowing the fruits of grace in her heart, desireth that Christ would de- 
light in his own graces in her, and kindly accept of what she presented him 
with. Whence we see that 

A gracious heart is privy to its own grace and sincerity irhen it is in a right 
temper, and so far as it is pirivy is bold with Christ in a sweet and reverend f 
manner. So much sincerity, so much confidence. If our heart condemn 
us not of unsincerity, we may in a reverend f manner speak boldly to Christ. 
It is not fit there should be strangeness betwixt Christ and his spouse ; 
neither, indeed, will there be, when Christ hath blown upon her, and when 
she is on the growing hand. But mark the order. 

First, Christ blows, and then the church says, ' Come.' Christ begins 
in love, then love draws love. Christ di-aws the church, and she runs after 
him, Cant. i. 4. The fire of love melts more than the fire of affliction. 

Again, we may see here in the church a carefulness to please Christ. 
As it is the duty, so it is the disposition, of the church of Chi'ist, to please 
her husband. 

* That is, ' members,' = adherents. — G. t That is, ' reverent.* — Ed. 

Cant. IV. 10.] ' and eat his pleasant fruits.' 15 

1. The reason is, first, our happiness stands in his contentment, and all 
cannot but be well in that house where the husband and the wife delight 
in, and make much of, each other. 

2. And again, after that the church hath denied herself and the vanities 
of the world, entering into a way and course of mortification, whom else 
hath she to give herself to, or receive contentment from ? Our manner is 
to study to please men whom we hope to rise by, being careful that all 
we do may be well taken of them. As for Christ, we put him ofi" with 
anything. If he likes it, so it is ; if not, it is the best that he is like to 

Uses. 1. Oh! let us take the apostle's counsel, 'To labour to walk 
worthy of the Lord, &c., unto all well-pleasing, increasing in knowledge, 
and fruitfulness in every good work,' Col. i. 9, 10. And this knowledge 
must not only be a general wisdom in knowing truths, but a special under- 
standing of his good- will to us, and our special duties again to him. 

2. Again, that we may please Christ the better, labour to be cleansed 
from that which is ofiensive to him : let the spring be clean. Therefore 
the psalnaist, desiring that the words of his mouth and the meditations of 
his heart might be acceptable before God, first begs ' cleansing from his 
secret sins,' Ps. xix. 12. 

3. And still we must remember that he himself must work in us whatso- 
ever is well-pleasing in his sight, that so we may be perfect in every good 
thing to do his will, having grace whereby we may serve him acceptably. 
And one prevailing argument with him is, that we desire to be such as 
he may take delight in : ' the upright are his delight.' It cannot but 
please him when we desire grace for this end that we may please him. 
If we study to please men in whom there is but little good, should we not 
much more study to please Christ, the fountain of goodness ? Labour 
therefore to be spiritual ; for ' to be carnally minded is death,' Eom. \iii. 
6, and ' those that are in the flesh cannot please God.' 

The chm'ch desires Christ to come into his garden, ' to eat his pleasant 
fruits,' where we see, the church gives all to Christ. The garden is his, 
the fiTiit his, the pleasantness and preciousness of the fruit is his. And 
as the fruits please him, so the humble acknowledgment that they come 
from him doth exceedingly please him. It is enough for us to have the 
comfort, let him have the gloiy. It came fi'om a good spirit in David 
when he said, ' Of thine own, Lord, I give thee,' &c., 1 Chron. xxix. 14. 
God accounts the works and fruits that come from us to be ours, because 
the judgment and resolution of will, whereby we do them, is ours. This 
he doth to encourage us ; but because the gi*ace whereby we judge and 
will aright, comes from God, it is om- duty to ascribe whatsoever is good 
in us, or comes from us, unto him ; so God shall lose no praise, and we 
lose no encouragement. The imperfections in well-doing are only ours, 
and those Christ will pardon, as knowing how to bear with the infirmities 
of his spouse, being ' the weaker vessel,' 1 Pet. iii. 7. 

Use. This therefore should cheer up our spirits in the wants and blemishes 
of our performances. They are notwithstanding precious fruits in Christ's 
acceptance, so that we desire to please him above all things, and to have 
nearer communion with him. Fruitfulness unto pleasingness may stand 
with imperfections, so that we be sensible of them, and ashamed for them. 
Although the fruit bo little, yet it is precious, there is a blessing in it. 
Imperfections help us against temptations to pride, not to be matter of 
discouragement, which Satan aims at. And as Christ commands the north 


and south wind to blow for cherishing, so Satan labours to stir up an east 
pinching wind, to take either from endeavour, or to make us heartless in 
endeavour. Why should we think basely of that which Christ thinks pre- 
cious ? "VVhy should we think that ofiensive which he counts as incense ? 
We must not give false witness of the work of grace in our hearts, but 
bless God that he will work anything in such polluted hearts as ours. 
What though, as they come from us, they have a relish of the old man, 
seeing he takes them from us, ' perfumes them with his own sweet 
odours,' Rev. viii. 3, and so presents them unto God. He is our High 
Priest which makes all acceptable, both persons, prayers, and perform- 
ances, sprinkling them all with his blood, Heb. ix. 14. 

To conclude this point, let it be our study to be in such a condition 
wherein we may please Christ ; and whereas we are daily prone to offend 
him, let us daily renew our covenant with him, and in him : and fetch 
encouragements of well-doing from this, that what we do is not only well- 
pleasing unto him, but rewarded of him. And to this end desire him, 
that he would give command to north and south, to all sort of means, to 
be effectual for making us more fruitful, that he may delight in us as his 
pleasant gardens. And then what is in the world that we need much care 
for or fear ? 

Now, upon the church's invitation for Christ to come into his garden, 
follows his gracious answer unto the church's desire, in the first verse of 
this fifth chapter : 

' I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse : I have gathered my 
myrrh with my spice ; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey ; I 
have drunk my wine with my milk : eat, friends ; drink, yea, drink 
abundantly, beloved,' Cant. v. 1. 

Which words contain in them an answer to the desire of the church in the 
latter juirt of the verse formerly handled: 'Awake, thou north wind; and 
come, thou south,' &c. 

Then, ver. 2, is set forth the secure estate of the church at this time, ' I 
sleep, but my heart waketh;' in setting down whereof the Holy Ghost here 
by Solomon shews likewise, 

The lovinrj intercourse betwixt Christ and the church one with another. 

Now Christ, upon the secure estate and condition of the church, desires 
her ' to open unto him,' ver 2 ; which desire and waiting of Christ is put 
off and slighted with poor and slender excuses : ver. 8, * I have put off my 
coat ; how shall I put it on ? ' &c. 

The success* of which excuses is, that Christ seems to go away from 
her (and indeed to her sight and sense departs) : ver. 6, ' I opened to my 
beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself,' &c. ; whereupon she lays 
about her, is restless, and inquires after Christ from the watchmen, who 
misuse, 'wound her, and take away her veil from her,' ver. 7. 

Another intercourse in this chapter here is, that the church for all this 
gives not over searchinr/ after Christ, but asks the daughters of Jerusalem 
what was become of her beloved, ver. 8 ; and withal, in a few words, but 
full of large expression, she relates her case unto them, that ' she was sick 
of love,' and so ' chargeth them to tell her beloved,' ' if they find him.' 
Wliercupon a question moved by them, touching her beloved, ver. 9, 
' What is thy beloved more than another beloved ? ' she takes occasion, 
being full of love, which is glad of all occasion to speak of the beloved, to 
* That is, ' the result.'— G. 

Cant. V. 1.] * i am come into my gaeden.' IT 

burst forth into his praises, by many elegant expressions, verses 10, 11, 
12, &c. 

1. lu general, setting him at a large distance, beyond comparison from 
all others, to be ' the chicfest of ten thousand,' ver. 10. 

2. In particulars, ver. 11, &c. : ' his head is as most fine gold,' &c. 

The issue whereof was, that the 'daughters of Jerusalem' become like- 
wise enamoured with him, chap. vi. 1 ; and thereupon inquire also after 
him, ' Whither is thy beloved gone, thou fairest among women ? ' &c. 
Unto which demand the church makes answer, chap. vi. 2 ; and so, ver. 3 
of that chapter makes a confident, triumphant close unto all these grand 
passages forenamcd, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine,' &c. ; 
all of which will better appear in the particulars themselves. 

The first thing then which offereth itself to our consideration is Christ's 
answer to the church's invitation, chap. iv. 16 : 

' I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse : I have gathered my 
myrrh with my spice ; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey ; I 
have drunk my wine with my milk : eat, friends ; drink, yea, drink 
abundantly, beloved.' In which verse w'e have, 

I. Christ's answer to the church's petition, ' I am come into my garden.' 

n. A compellation, or description of the church, ' My sister, my spouse.' 

III. Christ's acceptation of what he had gotten there, ' I have gathered 
my myrrh with my spice ; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey.' 
There is, 

IV. An invitation of all Christ's friends to a magnifique* abundant feast, 
* Eat, friends ; drink, yea di-ink abundantly, beloved.* 

I. For the first, then, in that Christ makes such a real answer unto the 
church's invitation, ' I am come into my garden,' &c., we see, that Christ 
comes into his garden. 'Tis much that ho that hath heaven to dehght in, 
will delight to dwell among the sons of sinful men ; but this he doth for us, 
and so takes notice of the church's petition. 

' Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant finait.' The 
right speech of the church that gives all to Christ, who, when she hath 
made such a petition, hears it. The order is this — 

First of all, God makes his church lovely, planteth good things therein, 
and then stirs up in her good desu-es : both fitness to pray from an inward 
gracious disposition, and holy desires ; after which, Christ hearing the voice 
of his own Spirit in, and regarding his own preparations, he answers 
them graciously. Whence, in the first place, we may observe, that, 

God makes us good, stirs up holy desires in us, and then answers the desires 
of his holy Spirit in us. 

A notable place for this we have, Ps. s. 17, which shews how God first 
prepares the heart to pray, and then hears these desii'es of the soul stirred 
up by his own Spirit, ' Lord, thou hast heard the desires of the humble.' 
None are fit to pray but the humble, such as discern their own wants : 
' Thou wilt prepare their hearts, thou wilt make thine ear to hear.' So 
Rom. viii. 26, it is said, ' Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infinni- 
ties ; for we know not what vro should pray for as we ought : but the Spirit 
itself maketh intercession for us, with gi'oauings which cannot be uttered.' 
Thus the Spirit not only stirs up our heart to pray, but also prepares our 
hearts unto it. Especially this is necessary for us, when our thoughts are 
confused with trouble, grief, and passions, not knowing what to pray. In 
* That is, ' majrniCcent.' — G. 

VOT.. TT. g 


this case the Spirit dictates the words of prayer, or else, in a confusion of 
thoughts, sums up all in a volley of sighs and unexpressible groans. Thus 
it is true, that our hearts can neither be lifted up to prayer, nor rightly 
prepared for it, in any frame fitting, but by God's own Spirit, Nothing is 
accepted of God toward heaven and happiness, but that which is spiritual : 
aU saving and sanctifying good comes from above. Therefore God must 
prepare the heart, stir up holy desires, dictate prayer ; must do all in all, 
being our ' AJpha and Omega,' Kev. i. 8. 

1. Now God hears our prayers. First, Because the materials of these holy 
desires are good in themselves, and from the person from ivhence t1iey come, his 
beloved spouse, as it is in Cant. ii. 14, where Christ, desiring to hear the 
voice of his church, saith, ' Let me see thy countenance, and let me hear 
thy voice ; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.' Thus 
the voice of the Spouse is sweet, because it is stirred up by his own Spirit, 
which burns the incense, and whence all comes which is savingly good. 
This offering up of our prayers in the name of Christ, is that which with 
his sweet odours perfumes all our sacrifices and prayers ; because, being in 
the covenant of grace, God respects whatsoever comes from us, as we do 
the desires of our near friends, Eev. viii. 3. 

2. And then, again, God hears our prayers, became he looks upon us as 
we are in election, and choice of God the Father, ivho hath given us to him. 
Not only as in the near bond of marriage, husband and wife, but also as he 
hath given us to Christ ; which is his plea unto the Father, John xvii. 6, 

* Thine they were, thou gavest them me,' &c. The desires of the church 
please him, because they are stirred up by his Spirit, and proceed from her 
that is his ; whose voice he delights to hear, and the prayers of others 
for his church are accepted, because they are for her that is his beloved. 

To confirm this further, see Isa. Iviii. 9. ' Thou then shalt cry, and the 
Lord shall answer ; thou shalt call, and presently he shall say, Here I am,' 
&c. So as soon as Daniel had ended that excellent prayer, the angel tell- 
eth him, ' At the beginning of thy supplications the decree came forth,' &c., 
Dan. ix. 23. So because he knows what to put into our hearts, he knows 
our desires and thoughts, and therefore accepts of our prayers and hears 
us, because he loves the voice of his own Spirit in us. So it is said, ' He 
fulfils the desires of them that fear him ; and he is near to all that caU 
upon him, to all that caU upon him in truth,' Ps. cxlv. 18. And our 
Saviour, he saith, ' Ask and ye shall receive,' &c.. Mat. vii. 7. So we 
have it, 1 John v. 14, ' And we know if we ask anything according to his 
will, he heareth us.' 

Use 1. Let it therefore be a singular comfort to us, that in all wants, so 
in that of friends, when we have none to go to, yet we have God, to whom 
we may freely pour out our hearts. There being no place in the world 
that can restrain us from his presence, or his Spirit from us, he can hear 
us and help us in all places. What a blessed estate is this ! None can 
hinder us from driving this trade with Christ in heaven. 

Use 2. And let us make another use of it hkewise, to be a means to stir 
up our hearts to make use of our privileges. What a prerogative is it for 
a favourite to have the fare * of his prince ! him we account happy. Surely 
he is much more happy that hath God's care, him to be his father in the 
covenant of grace ; him reconciled, upon all occasions, to pour out his heart 
before him, who is merciful and faithful, wise and most able to help us. 

* Why are we discouraged, therefore ; and why are we cast down,' Ps. 

* Qu. ' care ?' or ' fare ?' — Ed. 

Cant. V. 1.] ' i aim come into my garden.' 19 

xlii. 11, when wo have such a powerful and such a gracious God to go 
to in all our extremities ? He that can pray can never be much uncom- 

Use 3. So Ukewise, it should stir us up to keep our peace with God, 
that so we may always have access unto him, and communion with him. 
What a pitiful case is it to lose other comforts, and thci'ewith also to be in 
such a state, that we cannot go to God with any boldness ! It is the 
greatest loss of all when we have lost the spirit of prayer ; for, if we lose 
other things, we may recover them by prayer. But when we have lost this 
boldness to go to God, and are afraid to look him in the face, as malefac- 
tors the judge, this is a woful state. 

Now there are diverse cases wherein the soul is not in a state fit for 
prayer. As that first, Ps. Ixvi. 18, ' If I regard iniquity in my heart, the 
Lord will not regard my prayer.' If a man hath a naughty heart, that pur- 
poseth to live in any sin against God, he takes him for an enemy, and 
therefore will not regard his prayer. Therefore we must come with a reso- 
lute purpose to break ofi" all sinful courses, and to give up ourselves to the 
guidance of God's Spirit. And this will be a forcible reason to move us 
thereunto, because so long as we Uve in any known sin unrepented of, God 
neither regards us nor our prayers. What a fearful estate is this, that 
when we have such need of God's favour in all estates ; in sickness, the 
hour of death, and in spiritual temptation, to be in such a condition as that 
we dare not go to God ! Though our lives be civil,* yet if we have false 
hearts that feed themselves with evil imaginations, and with a purpose of 
sinning, though we act it not, the Lord will not regard the prayers of such 
a one ; they are abominable. The very ' sacrifice of the wicked is abomi- 
nable,' Prov. XV. 8. 

2. Another case is, when we will not forgive others. We know it is di- 
rectly set down in the Lord's prayer, * Forgive us our trespasses, as we 
forgive them that trespass against us,' Mat. vi. 14 ; and there is further 
added, ver. 15, ' If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your 
heavenly Father forgive you.' If our hearts tell us we have no disposition 
to pardon, be at peace and agreement, then we do but take God's name in 
vain when we ask him to forgive our sins, and we continue in envy and 
malice. In this case God will not regard our prayers, as it is said, * I care 
not for your prayers, or for any service you perform to me,' Isa. i. 15. 
^Vhy ? ' For your hands are full of blood,' Isa. Ixvi. 1. You are unmerciful, 
of a cruel, fierce disposition, which cannot appear before God rightly, nor 
humble itself in prayer. If it doth, its own bloody and cniel disposition 
will be objected against the prayers, which are not mingled with faith and 
love, but with wrath and bitterness. Shall I look for mercy, that have no 
merciful heart myself? Can I hope to find that of God, that others cannot 
find from me ? An unbroken disposition, which counts ' pride an ornament,' 
Ps. Ixxiii. 6, that is cruel and fierce, it cannot go to God in prayer. For, 
whosoever would prevail with God in prayer must be humble ; for our sup- 
plications must come from a loving, peaceable disposition, where there is a 
resolution against all sin, Ps. Ixxiii. 1. Neither is it sufiicient to avoid 
gi'udging and malice against these, but we must look that others have not 
cause to grudge against us, as it is commanded : ' If thou bring thy gifts to 
the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee ; 
leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way ; first be reconciled to 
thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift,' Mat. v. 23. So that if 
* That is. ' moral.' — G 


we do not seek reconciliation with men unto whom we have done wrong, 
God will not be reconciled to us, nor accept any service from us. 

If then we would have our prayers and our persons accepted or respected, 
let us make conscience of that which hath been said, and not lose such a 
blessed privilege as this is, that God may regard our prayers. But here 
may be asked — 

Quest. How shall I know whether God regard my prayers or not ? 

Ans. 1. First, When he grants the thing prayed for, or enlargeth our hearts to 
pray still. It is a greater gift than the thing itself we beg, to have a spirit of 
prayer with a heart enlarged ; for, as long as the heart is enlarged to prayer, 
it is a sign that God hath a special regard of us, and will grant our petition 
in the best and fittest time. 

2. When he answers lis in a better and higher kind, as Paul when he 
prayed for the taking away of the prick of the flesh, had promises of sufii- 
cient grace, 2 Cor. xii. 7-9. 

3. When, again, he gives us inward peace, though he gives not the thing, as 
Phil. iv. 6, * In nothing be careful, but in all things let your requests be 
made to God with prayer and thanksgiving.' 

Obj. But sometimes he doth not answer our requests. 

Ans. It is true he doth not, but ' the peace of God which passeth all 
understanding guards our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of 
God,' Phihp. iv. 7. So though he answers not our prayers in particular, 
yet he vouchsafes inward peace unto us, assuring us that it shall go well 
with us, though not in that particular we beg. And thus in not hearing 
their prayers, yet they have their hearts' desire when God's wiU is made 
known. Is not this sufficient for a Christian, either to have the thing, or 
to have inward peace, with assui'ance that it shall go better with them than 
if they had it ; with a spirit enlarged to pray, till they have the thing 
prayed for. If any of these be, God respects our prayers. 

Again, in that Chiist is thus ready to come into his garden upon the 
church's invitation, we may further observe, that 

Christ vouchsafes his gracious presence to his children upon their desire of it. 

The point is clear. Fi'om the beginning of the world, the church hath 
had the presence of Christ alway ; for either he hath been present in sacri- 
fices, or in some other things, signs of his presence, as in the ' bush,' Exod. 
iii. 2, or some more glorious manifestation of his presence, the ark, Exod. 
XXV. 22, and in the cloud and pillar of fire, Exod. xiii. 21, and after that 
more gloriously in the temple. He hath ever been present with his church 
in some sign or .evidence of his presence ; he delighted to be with the chil- 
dren of men. Sometimes before that he assumed a body, and aftersvard 
laid it down again, until he came, indeed, to take our nature upon him, 
never to leave it again. But here is meant a spiritual presence most of aU, 
which the church in some sort ever had, now desires, and he ofiers, as being 
a God ' hearing prayer,' Ps. Ixv. 2. And to instance in one place for all, 
to see how ready Chi-ist hath always been to shew his presence to the 
church upon their desire. What else is the burden of the 107th Psalm but 
a repetition of God's readiness to shew his presence in the church, upon 
their seeking unto him, and unfeigned desire of it, notwithstanding all their 
manifold provocations of him to anger ? which is well summed up, Ps. cvi. 
43, * Many times did he deliver them, but they provoked him with their 
counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Nevertheless, he regarded 
*iheir afflction when he heard their cry.' 

It doth not content the church to have a kind of spiritual presence of 

Cant. IV. IC] ' i .vii come into my garden. 21 

Christ, but it is earned from desire to desire, till the whole desire be accom- 
plished ; for as there are gradual presences of Christ, so there are suitable 
desires in the church which rise by degrees. Christ was present, 1, by his 
gracious spirit ; and then, 2, more graciously present in his incarnation, 
the sweetest time that ever the church had from the beginning of the world 
until then. It being ' the desire of nations,' Hag. ii. 7, for the description 
of those who lived before his coming is from * the waiting for the consola- 
tion of Israel,' that is, for the first coming of Christ. And then there is a 
3d and more glorious presence of Christ, that all of us wait for, whereby 
we are described to be such ' as wait for the coming of Christ,' Mark xv. 43. 
For the soul of a Christian is never satisfied until it enjoy the highest de- 
sire of Christ's presence, which the church knew well enough must follow 
in time. Therefore, she especially desires this spiritual presence in a larger 
and fuller measure, which she in some measure already had. So, then, 
Christ is graciously present in his church by his Holy Spirit. ' I will bo 
with you,' saith he, ' unto the end of the world,' Mat. xxviii. 20. It is his 
promise. When I am gone myself, ' I will not leav^ you comfortless,' John 
xiv. 18, but leave wdth you my vicar-general, the Holy Spiiit, the Com- 
forter, who shall be alway with you. But — 

Quest. How shall we know that Christ is present in us ? 

Ans. To know this, we shall not need to pull him from heaven. We 
may know it in the word and sacraments, and in the communion t)f saints ; 
for these are the conveyances whereby he manifests himself, together with 
the work of his own gracious Spirit in us ; for, as we need not take the sun 
from heaven to know whether or not it be up, or be day, which may be 
known by the light, heat, and fruitfulness of the creature ; and as m the 
spring we need not look to the heaven to see whether the sun be come near 
us or not, for looking on the earth we may see all green, fresh, lively, 
strong, and vigorous ; so it is with the presence of Christ. We may know 
he is present by that light which is in the soul, convincing us of better 
courses to be taken, of a spiritual life, to know heavenly things, and the 
difference of them from earthly, and to set a price upon them. When there 
is, together with hght, a heat above nature, the affections are kindled to 
love the best things, and to joy in them ; and when, together with heat, 
there is strength and %'igour to carry us to spiritual duties, framing us to 
a holy communion with God, and one with another ; and likewise when there 
is every way cheerfulness and enlargement of spirit, as it is with the crea- 
tm-e when the sun approacheth. For these causes the church desires 
Christ, that she may have more light, life, heat, vigour, strength, and that 
she may be more cheerful and fruitful in duties. The sold, when it is once 
made spiritual, doth still desii-e a further and further presence of Christ, 
to be made better and better. 

"What a comfort is this to Christians, that they have the presence of 
Christ so far forth as shall make them happy, and as the earth will afibrd. 
Nothing but heaven, or rather Christ in heaven itself, will content the child 
of God. In the mean time, his presence in the congregation makes their 
souls, as it were, heaven. If the king's presence, who carries the court 
with him, makes all places where he is a court, so Christ he carries a kind 
of heaven with him. Wheresoever he is, his presence hath with it life, light, 
comfort, strength, and all ; for one beam of his countenance will scatter all 
the clouds of grief whatsoever. It is no matter where we be, so Christ be 
with us. If with the three children in a fiery furnace, it is no matter, if * a 
fourth be there also,' Dan. iii. 25. So if Christ be with us, the flames nor 


notliing shall hurt us. If in a dungeon, as Paul and Silas were, Acts svi. 24, 
if Christ's presence be there, by his Spirit to enlarge our souls, all is 
comfortable whatsoever. It changeth the nature of all things, sweetensth 
everything, besides that sweetness which it brings unto the soul, by the 
presence of the Spirit ; as we see in the Acts, when they had received the 
Holy Ghost more abundantly, they cared not what they sufiered, regarded 
not whipping ; nay, were glad ' that they were accounted worthy to suffer 
anything for Christ,' Acts v. 41. "Whence came this fortitude ? From the 
presence of Christ, and the Comforter which he had formerly promised. 

So let us have the Spirit of Christ that comes from him ; then it is no 
matter what our condition be in the world. Upon this ground let us fear 
nothing that shall befall us in God's cause, whatsoever it is. We shall have 
a spirit of prayer at the worst. God never takes away the spirit of suppli- 
cation from his children, but leaves them that, until at length he possess 
them fully of their desires. In all Christ's delays, let us look unto the 
cause, and to our carriage therein ; renew our repentance, that we may be 
in a fit state to go to God, and God to come to us. Desfre him to fit us 
for prayer and holy communion with him, that we may never doubt of his 


1 am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh 
with my spice; I have gathered my honeycomb ivith my honey; I have 
drunk my tvine with my milk: eat, friends; drink, yea, drink abun- 
dantly, beloved.' — Cakt. V. 1. 

This song is a mirror of Christ's love, a discovery of which we have in 
part in this verse ; wherein Christ accepts of the invitation of the 
church, and comes into his garden ; and he entertains her with the terms 
of sister and spouse. Herein observe the description of the church, and the 
sweet compiellation, ' my sister, my spouse ; ' where there is both afiinity 
and consanguinity, all the bonds that may tie us to Christ, and Christ to us. 

1. His sister, by blood. 

2. His spouse, by marriage. 

Christ is our brother, and the church, and every particular true member 
thereof, is his sister. 'I go,' saith Christ, ' to my Father and to your 
Father, to my God and to your God,' John xx. 17. ' Go,' saith he, ' and 
tell my brethren.' This was after his resurrection. His advancement did 
not change his disposition. Go, tell my brethren that left me so un- 
kindly ; go, tell Peter that was most unkind of all, and most cast down 
with the sense of it. He became our brother by incarnation, for all our 
union is from the first union of two natures in one person. Christ be- 
came bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, to make us spiritually bone of 
his bone and flesh of his flesh. 

Therefore let us labour to be like to him, who for that purpose be- 
came like to us, Immanuel, God with us, Isa. vii. 14 ; that we might be 
like him, and * partake of the di\'ine nature,' 2 Pet. i. 4. YvTiom should 
we rather desire to be like than one so great, so gracious, so loving ? 

Again, ' Christ was not ashamed to call us brethren,' Heb. ii. 11, nor 
* abhorred the virgin's womb,' to be shut up in those dark cells and 

Cant. Y. 1.] *my sister, my spouse.' 28 

straits ; but took our base nature, when it was at the worst, and not only 
our natui'C, but our miserable condition and curse due unto us. Was he 
not ashamed of us ? and shall we be ashamed to own him and his cause ? 
Against this cowardice it is a thunderbolt which our Saviour Christ pro- 
nounceth, ' He that is ashamed of me before men, him will I be ashamed of 
before my Father, and all the holy angels,' Mark viii. 38. It argues abase 
disposition, either for frown or favour to desert a good cause in evil times. 

Again, It is a point of comfort to know that we have a brother icho is a 
favourite in heaven; who, though he abased himself for us, is yet Lord 
over all. Unless he had been our brother, he could not have been our 
husband ; for husband and wife should be of one natm-e. That he might 
marry us, therefore, he came and took our nature, so to be fitted to fulfil 
the work of our redemption. But now he is in heaven, set down at the 
right hand of God : the true Joseph, the high steward of heaven; he hath 
all power committed unto him; he rules all. What a comfort is this to a 
poor soul that hath no friends in the world, that yet he hath a friend in 
heaven that will own him for his brother, in and through whom he may go 
to the throne of grace boldly and pour out his soul, Heb. iv. 15, 16. 
What a comfort was it to Joseph's brethren that then- brother was the 
second person in the kingdom. 

Again, It should be a motive to have good Christians in high estimation, 
and to take heed how ive wrong them, for their brother will take their part. 
' Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' Acts ix. 4, saith the Head in 
heaven, when his members were trodden on upon earth. It is more to 
wrong a Christian than the world takes it for, for Christ takes it as done 
to himself. Absalom was a man wicked and unnatural, yet he could not 
endiu-e the wi'ong that was done to his sister Tamar, 2 Sam. xiii. 1. 
Jacob's sons took it as a high indignity that their sister should be so 
abused. Gen. xxxiv. Hath Christ no affections, now he is in heaven, to 
her that is so near him as the church is ? Howsoever he suffer men to 
t}Tannise over her for a while, yet it will appear ere long that he will take 
the chm'ch's part, for he is her brother. 

' My sister, my spouse.' 

The church is the daughter of a King, begotten of God ; the sister and 
spouse of a King, because she is the sister and spouse of Christ, and the 
mother of all that are spiritual kings. The church of Christ is every way 
royal. Therefore we are kings because we are Ckristians. Hence the 
Holy Ghost doth add here to sister, spouse. Indeed, taking the advantage 
of such relations as are most comfortable, to set out the excellent and tran- 
scendant relation that is between Christ and his church ; all other are not 
w^hat they are tenned, so much as glasses to see better things. Kiches, 
beauty, marriage, nobility, &c., are scarce worthy of their names. These 
are but titles and empty things. Though om- base natm-e make great 
matters of them, yet the reality and substance of all these are in heavenly 
things. True riches are the heavenly graces; true nobiUty is to be bom 
of God, to be the sister and spouse of Christ ; true pleasures are those of 
the Spirit, which endure for ever, and will stand by us when all outward 
comforts will vanish. That mystical union and sweet communion is set 
down with such variety of expressions, to shew that whatsoever is scattered 
in the creature severally is in him entirely. He is both a friend and a 
brother, a head and a husband, to us; therefore he takes the names of all. 
Whence we may observe further, 

That the church is the spouse oj Christ. It springs out of him; even as 


Eve taken out of Adam's rib, so the spouse of Christ was taken out of his 
side. When it was pierced, the church rose out of his blood and death; 
for he redeemed it, by satisfying divine justice ; we being in such a condi- 
tion that Christ must redeem us before he would wed us. First, he must 
he incarnate in our nature before he could be a fit husband; and then, 
because we were in bondage and captivity, we must be redeemed before he 
could maiTy us: 'he purchased his church with his own blood,' Acts sx. 
28. Christ hath right to us, he bought us dearly. 

Again, another foundation of this marriage between Christ and us, is 
moment. He works us by his Spirit to yield to him. There must be con- 
sent on our part, which is not in us by nature, but wrought by his Spirit, 
&c. We yield to take him upon his own terms ; that is, that we shall leave 
our father's house, all our former carnal acquaintance, when he hath wrought 
our consent. Then the marriage between him and us is struck up. 

Some few resemblances wiU make the consideration of this the more 

1. The husband takes his wife imder his own name. She, losing her 
own name, is called by his. So we are called Christians, of Christ. 

2. The wife is taken with all her debt, and made partaker of the honours 
and riches of her husband. Whatsoever he hath is hers, and he stands 
answerable for all her debts. So it is here : we have not only the name of 
Christ upon us, but we partake his honours, and are kings, priests, and 
heirs with him, Kev. i. 5, 6. \Vhatsoever he hath, he hath taken us into 
the fellowship of it ; so that his riches are ours, and likewise, whatsoever 
is ours that is ill, he hath taken it upon him, even the wrath due to us. 
Por he came between that and us, when he was made sin and a curse 
for us, 2 Cor. v. 21 ; so there is a blessed change between Christ and us. 
His honours and riches are ours. We have nothing to bestow on him, but 
our beggary, sins and miseries, which he took upon him. 

3. Those that bring together these two different parties, are the friends 
of the bride; that is, the ministers, as it is, John iii. 23. They are the 
paranijmjjhi, the friends of the bride, that learn of Christ what to report 
to his spouse, and so they woo for Christ, and open the riches, beauty, 
honour, and all that is lovely in him, which is indeed the especial dut}' of 
ministers — to lay open his unsearchable riches, that the chui-ch may know 
what a husband she is like to have, if she cleave to him ; and what an one 
she leaves, if she forsake him. It was well said in the council of Basil, out 
of Bernard, ' Nemo committit sponsam suam Vicario ; nemo enim Ecclesicu 
sponsus est,' — None commits his wife to a vicar, for none is the husband of 
the church. To be husband of the church is one of the incommunicable 
titles of Christ, yet usui*ped by the pope. Innocent the Third was the first 
that wronged Chi'ist's bed by challenging the title of Sponsus, husband of 
the church. Bernard forbids his scholar Eugenius this title (Epist. ccxxxvii. 
ad Eugenium). It is enough for ministers to be friends of the Bride. Let 
us yield him to be husband of the church, that hath given himself to 
sanctify it with washing of water and blood, Eph. v. 26. We are a wife of 
blood to him. 

In this sweet conjunction we must know, that by nature we are clean 
othei-ways than spouses ; for what was Solomon's wife, Pharaoh's daughter ? 
A heathen, till she came to be Solomon's spouse. And as we read in 
Moses, the strange woman must have her hair cut off, and her nails pared, 
Dent. xxi. 12. Before she should be taken into the church, there must be 
an alteration ; so before the church, which is not heathenish, but indeed 

Cant. V. 1.] 'my sister, my spouse.' 25 

hellish by nature, and led by the spirit of the world, be fit to be the spouse 
of Christ, there must be an alteration and a change of natm-e, Is. xi. 6-8 ; 
John iii. 3. Christ must alter, renew, purge, and fit us for himself. The 
apostle saith, Eph. v. 24, it was the end of his death, not only to take us 
to heaven, but to sanctify us on earth, and prepare us that we might be fit 
spouses for himself. 

Use 1. Let ^ls oft think of tJm nearness between Christ and us, if we have 
once given our names to him, and not be discouraged for any sin or un- 
worthiness in us. Who sues a wife for debt, when she is mai-ried ? Uxon 
Us non intenditur. Therefore answer all accusations thus: — 'Go to Christ.* 
If you have anything to say to me, go to my husband. God is just, but 
he will not have his justice twice satisfied, seeing whatsoever is due there- 
unto is satisfied by Christ our husband. What a comfort is this to a 
distressed conscience ! If sin cannot dismay us, which is the ill of ills 
and cause of all evil, what other ill can dismay us ? He that exhorts us 
to bear with the infirmities one of another, and hath enjoined the husband 
to bear with the wife, as the weaker vessel, 1 Pet. iii. 7, will not he bear 
with his church as the weaker vessel, performing the duty of an husband 
in all our infirmities ? 

Use 2. Again, his desire is to make her better, and not to cast her away 
for that which is amiss. And for outward ills, they are but to refine, and 
make us more conformable to Christ our husband, to fit us for heaven, the 
same way that he went. They have a blessing in them all, for he takes 
away all that is hurtful, he pities and keeps us ' as the apple of his eye,' 
'^ech. ii. 8. Therefore, let us often think of this, since he hath vouch- 
safed to take us so near to himself. Let us not lose the comfort that this 
meditation Avill yield us. We love for goodness, beauty, riches ; but 
Christ loves us to make us so, and then loves us because we are so, in all 
estates whatsoever. 

Use 3. And if Chi-ist be so near us, let us labour for chaste jiuhpnents, 
that we do not defile them with errors, seeing the whole soul is espoused to 
Christ. Truth is the spouse of our understandings. Veritas est sponsa 
intellectus. It is left* to us to be wanton in opinions, to take up what con- 
ceit we will of things. So we ought to have chaste afiections, not cleaving 
to base things. It hath been ofttimes seen, that one husband hath many 
wives, but never from the beginning of the world, that one wife hath had 
many husbands. God promiseth to betroth his church to him in righteous- 
ness and faithfulness, that is, as he will be faithful to her, so she shall by 
his grace be faithful to him ; faithfulness shall be mutual ; the church shall 
not be false to Christ. So there is no Christian soul must think to have 
many husbands ; for Christ in this case is a jealous husband. Take heed 
therefore of spiritual harlotry of heart, for our afiections are for Christ, and 
cannot be better bestowed. In other things we lose our love, and the things 
loved ; but here we lose not our love, but this is a perfecting love, which 
draws us to love that which is better than ourselves. We are, as we aflect ;f 
our afiections are, as their objects be. If they be set upon better things 
than ourselves, they are bettered by it. They are never rightly bestowed, 
but when they are set upon Christ ; and upon other things as they answer 
and stand -with the love of Christ. For the prime love, when it is rightly 
bestowed, it orders and regulates all other loves whatsoever. No man 
knows how to use earthly things, but a Christian, that hath fij-st pitched 
his love on Christ. Then seeing all things in him, and in all them, a beam 
* Qu. ' not left? '—Ed. t That is, ' choose.'— G. 


of that love of his, intending happiness to him, so he knows how to use 
everything in order. Therefore let us keep our communion with Christ, 
and esteem nothing more than his love, because he esteems nothing more 
than ours. 

Quest. But how shall we knovv^, whether we be espoused to Christ or not ? 

Ans. 1. GUI' hearts can tell us, whether ice yield consent to him or not. In 
particular, whether we have received him, as he will be received, as a right 
husband, that is, xvhether ive receive him to be ruled by him, to make him our 
head. For the wife, when she yields to be married, therewith also sur- 
renders up her own will, to be ruled by her husband. So far she hath 
denied her own will ; she hath no will of her ovm. Christ hath wisdom 
enough for us, and himself too, whose wisdom and will must be ours. To 
be led by divine truths so far as they are discovered unto us, and to submit 
ourselves thereunto, is a sign of a gi'acious heart, that is married to Christ. 

Ans. 2. Again, a u-illinf/ness to follow Christ in all conditions as he is dis- 
covered in the ivord. To suifer Christ to have the sovereignty in our affections, 
above all other things and persons in the world ; this is the right disposition 
of a true spouse. For as it was at the fii'st institution, there must be a 
leaving of father, and mother, and all, to cleave to our husband* : so here, 
when anything and Christ cannot stand together, or else we shall never 
have the comfort of his sweet name. Many men will be glad to own Christ 
to be gi'eat by him, but as St Austin complains in his time, Chi'ist Jesus is 
not loved for Jesus his own sake. Vix diliyitur Jesus propter Jesum, but 
for other things, that he brings with him, peace, plent}', &c. — as far as it 
stands with these contentments. If Christ and the world part once, it will 
be known which we followed. In times of peace this is hardlyf discemed- 
If he will pay men's debts, so as they may have the credit and glory of the 
name to be called Christians, if he will redeem them from the danger of 
sin, all is well ; but only such have the comfort of this communion, as love 
him for himself. Let us not so much trouble ourselves about signs as be 
careful to do our duty to Chi'ist, and then will Christ discover his love 
clearly unto us. 

Use 4. Now, they that are not brought so near to this happy condition 
by Christ, may yet have this encouragement, there is yet place of grace for 
them. Let them therefore consider but these three things. 

1. The excellency of Chi'ist, and of the state of the church, when it is so 
near him. 

2. The necessity of this, to be so near him. 

3. That there is hope of it. 

There is in Christ whatsoever may commend a husband ; birth, comeli- 
ness, riches, friends, wisdom, authority, &c. 

1. The excellency of this condition to be one with Christ, is, that all 
things are ours. For he is the King, and the church the Queen of all. All 
things are serviceable to us. It is a wondrous nearness, to be nearer to ■ 
Christ than the angels, who are not his body, but servants that attend upon 
the church. The bride is nearer to him than the angels, for, ' he is the 
head and husband thereof, and not of the angels,' Heb. ii. 16. What an 
excellent condition is this for poor flesh and blood, that creeps up and down 
the earth here despised ! 

2. But especially, if we consider the necessity of it. We are all indebted 
for more than we are worth. To divine justice we owe a debt of obedience, 

* See Gen. ii. 24 and Mat. xix. 5 ; Mark x. 7, but it is ' wife,' not ' husband.' — G. 
t That is with ' difficulty.'— G. 

Cant. V. 1.] ' i have gathered my myrrh.' 27 

and in want of that we owe a debt of punishment, and we cannot answer 
one for a thousand. What will become of us if we have not a husband to 
discharge all our debts, but to be imprisoned for ever ? 

A person that is a stranger to Christ, though he were an Ahithophel for 
his brain, a Judas for his profession, a Saul for his place, yet if his sins be 
set before him, he will be swallowed up of despair, fearing to be shut up 
eternally under God's wrath. Therefore, if nothing else move, yet let ne- 
cessity compel us to take Christ. 

3. Consider not only how suitable and how necessary he is unto us, but 
what hope there is to have him, wheuas he sueth to us by his messengers, 
and wooeth us, whenas we should rather seek to him ; and with other mes- 
sengers sendeih a privy messenger, his Holy Spirit, to incline our hearts. 
Let us therefore, as we love our souls, sutler ourselves to be won. But 
more of this in another place. The next branch is, 

III. Christ's acceptation. ' I have gathered my myrrh with my spice,' &c. 
So that, together with Christ's presence, here is a gracious acceptance of 
the provision of the church, with a delight in it, and withal, a bringing of 
more with him. The church had a double desire, 1, That Christ would 
come to accept of what she had for him of his own grace, which he had 
wrought in her soul ; and 2, She was also verily persuaded that he would 
not come empty handed, only to accept of what was there, but also would 
bring abundance of gi'ace and comfort with him. Therefore she desires 
acceptation and increase ; both which desires he answers. He comes to 
his garden, shews his acceptation, and withal he brings more. * I have 
gathered my mj^i-rh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb with my 
honey ; I have drtmk my wine with my milk,' &c. Whence we observe, 

That God accepts of the graces of his children, and delights in them. 

First, Because they are the fruits that come from his children, his spouse, 
his friend. Love of the person wins acceptance of that which is presented 
from the person. What comes from love is lovingly taken. 

Second, They are the graces of his Sjntit. If we have anything that is 
good, all comes from the Spirit, which is first in Christ our husband, and 
then in us. As the ointment was first poured on Aaron's head, Ps. cxxxiii. 2, 
and then ran down upon his rich garments, so all comes fr-om Christ to us. 
St Paul caUs the wife ' the glory of her husband,' 1 Cor. xi. 7, because, as 
in a glass, she resembleth the graces of her husband, who may see his own 
graces in her. So it is with Christ and the church. Face answereth to 
face, as Solomon saith in another case, Prov. xxvii. 19. Christ sees his own 
face, beauty, glory, in his chm-ch ; she reflects his beams ; he looks in love 
upon her, and always with his looks conveys grace and comfort ; and the 
church doth reflect back again his grace. Therefore Chi-ist loves but the 
reflection of his own graces in his children, and therefore accepts them. 

Third, His kindness is such as he takes all in good part. Christ is love 
and kindness itself. Why doth he give unto her the name of spouse and 
sister, but that he would be kind and loving, and that we should conceive 
80 of him ? We see, then, the gi'aces of Christ accepting of us and what 
we do in his strength. Both we ourselves are sacrifices, and what we ofier 
is a sacrifice acceptable to God, through him that offered himself as a sacrifice 
of sweet smelling savour, from which God smells a savour of rest. God 
accepts of Christ fii-st, and then of us, and what comes from us in him. 
We may boldly pray, as Ps. xx. 3, ' Lord, remember aU our offerings, and 
accept all our sacrifices.' The blessed apostle St Paul doth will us * to 


offer up ourselves,' Rom. xii. 1, a holy and acceptable sacrifice to God, 
when we are once in Christ. In the Old Testament we have divers mani- 
festations of this acceptation. He accepted the sacrifice of Abel, as it is 
thought, by fire fi'om heaven, and so Elijah's sacrifice, and Solomon's, by 
fire, 1 Kings xviii. 38; 1 Chron, xxi. 26. So in the New Testament he 
shewed his acceptation of the disciples meeting together, by a mighty wind, 
and then filling them with the Holy Ghost, Acts ii. 3. But now the 
declaration of the acceptation of our persons, graces, and sacrifice that wo 
offer to him, is most in peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost, and 
from a holy fire of love kindled by the Sphit, whereby our sacrifices are 
burned. In the incense of prayer, how many sweet spices are burned 
together by this fire of faith working by love ; as humility and patience 
in submitting to God's will, hope of a gracious answer, holiness, love to 
others, &c. 

Use 1. If so be that God accepts the performances and graces, especially 
the prayers of his children, let it be an argument to encourage us to be much 
\n all hohj duties. It would dead the heart of any man to perform service 
where it should not be accepted, and the eye turned aside, not vouchsafing 
a gracious look upon it. This would be a kiUmg of all comfortable endea- 
vours. But when all that is good is accepted, and what is amiss is par- 
doned, when a broken desire, a cup of cold water shall not go unrespected, 
nay, unrewarded. Mat. x. 42, what can we desire more ? It is infidehty 
which is dishonourable to God and uncomfortable to om-selves, that makes 
us so barren and cold in duties. 

Use 2. Only let our care be to approve our hearts unto Christ. When 
our hearts are right, we cannot but think comfortably of Christ. Those 
that have offended some great persons are afraid, when they hear from 
them, because they think they are in a state displeasing to them. So a 
soul that is under the guilt of any sin is so far from thinking that God accepts 
of it, that it looks to hear nothing from him but some message of anger 
and displeasm-e. But one that preserves acquaintance, due distance, and 
respect to a great person, hears from him vrith comfort. Before he breaks 
open a letter, or sees anything, he supposes it comes from a friend, one 
that loves him. So, as we would desii'e to hear nothing but good news 
from heaven, and acceptation of all that we do, let us be careful to preserve 
ourselves in a good estate, or else our souls will tremble upon any discovery 
of God's wrath. The g"uilty conscience argues, what can God shew to me, 
being such a wretch ? The heart of such an one cannot but misgive, as, 
where peace is made, it will speak comfort. It is said of Daniel that he 
was a man of God's desires, Dan. ix. 23 ; x. 11, 19 ; and of St John, that 
Christ so loved him that he leaned on his breast, John xxi. 20. Every one 
cannot be a Daniel, nor one that leans on Christ's bosom. There are de- 
grees of favour and love ; but there is no child of God but he is beloved 
and accepted of him in some degree. But something of this before in the 
former chapter. 

* I have gathered my myrrh with my spice ; I have eaten my honeycomb 
with my honey,' &c. 

That is, I have taken contentment in thy graces, together with accepta- 
tion. There is a delight, and God not only accepts, but he delights in the 
graces of his children. ' All my delight,' saith David, ' is in those that are 
excellent,' Ps. xvi. 3. But this is not all, Christ comes with an enlarge- 
ment of what he finds. 

Christ comes, and comes not empty whensoever he comes, but with abund- 

Cant. V. 1.] * i have eaten my honeycomb.' 29^ 

ance of grace. If St Paul, who was but Chi-ist's instrument, could tell the 
Eomans, ' I hope to come to you in abundance of grace and comfort,' Rom. 
XV. 29, because he was a blessed instrument to convey good from Christ to 
the people of God, as a conduit-pipe, how much more shall Christ himself, 
where he is present, come with graces and comfort ! Those that have 
communion with Christ, therefore, have a comfortable communion, being 
euro to have it enlarged, for ' to him that hath shall be given,' Mat. xxv. 29. 
It is not only true of his last coming, when he shall come to judge the quick 
and the dead, ' I come, and my reward is with me,' Rev. xxii. 12, but also 
of all his intermediate comings that are between. When he comes to the 
Boul, he comes not only to accept what is there, but still with his reward 
with him, the increase of gi'ace, to recompense all that is good with the in- 
crease thereof. This made his presence so desired in the gospel with those 
that had gracious hearts. They knew all was the better for Christ, the 
company the better, for he never left any house or table where he was, but 
there was an increase of comfort, and of grace. And as it was in his per- 
sonal, so it is in his spiritual presence. He never comes, but he increases 
grace and comfort. 

Therefore, let us be stirred up to have communion with Christ, by this 
motive, that thus we shall have an increase of a further measure of grace. 
Let us labour to be such as Christ may delight in, for our graces are honey 
and spices to him, and where he tastes sweetness he will bring more with 
him. To him that overcometh he promiseth ' the hidden manna,' Rev. 
ii. 17. They had manna before, but he means they shall have more abund- 
ant communion with me, who am ' the hidden manna.' There is abund- 
ance in him to be had, as the soul is capable of abundance. Therefore we 
may most fruitfully and comfortably be conversant in holy exercises and 
communion with Christ, because our souls are fit to be enlarged more and 
more, till they have their fulness in heaven ; and still there is more grace 
and comfort to be had in Christ, the more we have to deal with him. 

But to come to shew what is meant by honey and wine, &c. Not to 
take uncertain grounds from these words, but that which may be a founda- 
tion for us to build comfort and instruction on, we wiU not shew in parti- 
cular what is meant by wine and honey (for that is not intended by the Holy 
Ghost), but shew in general how acceptable the graces of the Spirit of 
Christ are to him, that they feed him and delight him, as wine and honey 
do us, because in the covenant of grace he fiUeth us by his Spirit of grace, 
to have comfort in us as we have in him. For, except there be a mutual 
joy in one another, there is not communion. Therefore Christ furnisheth 
his church with so much grace as is necessaiy for a state of absence here, 
that may fit her for communion with him for ever in heaven. As Isaac 
sent Rebecca, before the marriage, jewels and ornaments to wear, Gen. 
xxiv. 22, that she might be more lovely when they met, so our blessed 
Saviour, he sends to his spouse from heaven jewels and ornaments, that is, 
graces, wherewith adorned, he may delight in her more and more till the 
marriage be fulfilled. Therefore in this book the church is brought in, 
delighting in Christ, and he in the chm*ch. ' Thy love,' saith the church to 
him, ' is sweeter than wine,' Cant. i. 2. Christ saith to the church again, 
' Thy love is sweeter than wine.' Whatsoever Christ saith to the church, 
the church saith back again to Christ, and he back again to the church. 
So there is a mutual contentment and joy one in another. * Eat, friends, 
drink,' Sec. 

Here is an invitation. When he comes stored with more gi-ace and 


comfort, he stirs them up; both the church, others, and all that bear good- 
will to his people, that they would delight in the graces and comforts of his 
church. Whence observe, that 

Obs. We ought to rejoice in the comforts and graces of others, and of ourselves. 

He stirreth up the church here, as well as others ; for he speaks to all, 
both to the church and the friends of it. He had need to stir her up to 
enjoy the comfort of her own grace ; for they are two distinct benefits, to 
have grace, and to know that we have it, though one Spirit work both, 
1 Cor. ii. 12. The Spirit works grace, and shews us the things that God 
hath given us, yet sometimes it doth the one, and not the other. In the 
time of desertion and of temptation, we have grace, but we know it not ; 
right to comfort, but we feel it not. There is no comfort of a secret, un- 
known treasure ; but so it is with the church, she doth not always take 
notice of her o'wti graces, and the right she hath to comfort. 

We have need to have Christ's Spirit to help 2is to know what good is in us. 
And indeed a Christian should not only examine his heart for the evil that 
is in him, to be humbled ; but what good there is, that he may joy and be 
thankful. And since Christ accepts the very first fruits, the earnest, and 
delights in them, we should Imow what he delights in, that we may go 
boldly to him ; considering that it is not of ourselves, but of Christ, whatso- 
ever is graciously good. Therefore we ought to know our own graces ; for 
Christ, when he will have us comfortable indeed, will discover to us what 
cause we have to rejoice, and shew us what is the work of his own Spirit, 
and our right to all comfort. 

And so, for others, we should not only joy in ourselves, and in our own 
condition and lot ; but also in the happy condition of every good Christian, 
There is joy in heaven at the conversion of one sinner, Luke xv. 10. God 
the Father joys to have a new son ; God the Son to see the fruit of his. 
own redemption, that one is pulled out of the state of damnation ; and 
God the Holy Ghost, that he hath a new temple to dwell in ; the angels, 
that they have a new charge to look to, that they had not before, to join 
with them to praise God. So there is joy in heaven; the Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost, with the angels, joy at it ; and all true-hearted Christians joy 
in the graces one of another. 

Reasons. For, 1. God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost have glory by it; and 
2, the church hath comfort by the increase of a saint. 3. The prayer of a 
Christian adds new strength to the church. What a happy condition is it 
when God's glory, the church's comfort and strength, and our own joy, meet 
together. So that we should all take notice of the grace of God in others. 

We ought to take notice of the works of God in creation and providence, 
when we see plants, stars, and such like, or else we dishonour God. 
WTiat then should we do for his gifts and graces in his children, that are 
above these in dignity? should we not take notice of what is graciously 
good, and praise God for it ? Thus they did for Paul's conversion, ' they 
glorified God.' For when they saw that Paul of a wolf was become not 
only a sheep, but a shepherd and leader of God's flock, they glorified God-^ 
Gal. i. 24. 

So the believing Jews, when the Gentiles were converted, ' they glorified 
God, that he had taken the Gentiles to be his garden and people,' Acts xi. 18. 
When Paul and others had planted the gospel, and God gave the increase, 
the godly Jews rejoiced at that good. So, we that are Gentiles, should re- 
joice to hear of the conversion of the Jews, and pray for it ; for then there 
will be a general joy when that is. Want of joy shews want of graces 

Cant. V. 1.] ' eat, o friends ; drink.' 81 

There is not a surer character of a Satanical and Cainish disposition, than 
to look on the graces of God's children with a mahgnant eye : as Cain, 
who hated his brother, because his works were better than his, 1 John iii. 12. 
Those that deprave * the graces of God in others, and cloud them with dis- 
graces, that they may not shine, and will not have the sweet ointment of 
their good names to spread, but cast dead flies into it, shew that they are 
of his disposition that is the accuser of the brethren. It is a siTn oi the 
child of the devil. All that have grace in them, are of Christ's and of the 
angels' disposition. They joy at the conversion and growth of any Chris- 
tians. Here, such as they, are styled friends and beloved ; and indeed 
none but fiiends and beloved can love as Christ loves, and deUght as Christ 


/ am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my ynyrrh 
tvith my spice; I have eaten viy honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk 
my wine ivith my milk ; eat friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, 
beloved! I sleep, but my heart u-aketh, &c. — Cant. v. 1, 2. 

It hath been shewed how Christ and the church were feasting together. 
She entreated his company ' to come into his garden and eat his pleasant 
fniits.' He, according to her desire, was come; and not only feasted on 
the chm-ch's provision, but also brought more with him, Christ taking 
walks in his garden, that is, his church, and every particular soul, which is 
as a sweet paradise for him to delight in, is much refreshed ; and in witness 
of acceptance brings increase. What greater encouragement can we wish, 
than that we, being by nature as the earth, since the fall, accm-sed, should 
be the soil of Christ's delight, planted and watered by him ; and that what 
we yield should be so well taken of him. We are under so gracious a 
covenant that all our services are accepted ; not only our honey, but honey- 
comb ; not only our wine, but our milk ; our weak services as well as our 
strong ; because the Spirit which we have from him sweeteneth all. As in 
nature there is one common influence from heaven, but yet variety of 
flowers, violets, roses, gilliflowers, spices, all sweet in their several kind, 
with a different kind of sweetness : so all graces have their beginning from 
the common influence of Christ's Spirit, though they differ one from an- 
other; and are all accepted of the ' Father of lights,' from whence they 
come, James i. 17, Christ wonders at his own grace, ' woman, great ia 
thy faith,' Matt. xv. 28 ; and Cant. iii. 6, ' Who is this that cometh out 
of the wilderness hke pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and fi-ankin- 
cense, with all powders of the merchant ?' 

Let not the weakest of all others be discouraged. Christ looks not to 
what he brings, so much as out of what store ; that which is least in quan- 
tity may be most in proportion, as the widow's mite was more in accept- 
ance than richer offerings, Luke xxi. 3, ' A pair of turtle doves,* Levit. 
V. 7, was accepted in the law, and those that brought but goats' hair to 
the building of the tabernacle, Exod. xxxv. 6, 

The particulars here specified that Christ took delight in, and invitcth 
others to a further degree of delight in, are 

Myrrh and spice, honey and honeycomb, milk. 

♦ That is, ' speak evil of.' - G. 


Whicli shew, 1. The sweetness of grace and spiritual comfort. 2. The 
variety. 3. The use. 

Myrrh and spices, 1, refresh the spirits, and 2, preserve from putre- 
faction ; which are therefore used in embalming. If the soul be not em- 
balmed with gi'ace, it is a noisome, carrion soul ; and as it is in itself, so 
whatsoever cometh from it is abominable. 

Milk and honey nom-ish and strengthen ; and wine increaseth spirits ; and 
thereupon encourageth and all^ayeth sorrow and cares. * Give wine to 
him that is ready to die,' Pro v. xxxi. 6. The sense of the love of Christ 
is sweeter than wine ; it banisheth fears, and sorrow, and care. 

From this mutual delight between Christ and his spouse we observe 
next, that 

There is a mutual feasting betwixt Christ and his church. The churcJi 
bringeth what she hath of his Spirit ; and Christ comes with more plenty. 

For there being so near a covenant between him and us, we are by his 
gi-ace to perfoiTQ all offices on our part. We invite him, and he inviteth 
us. There is not the meanest Christian in whom there is not somewhat to 
welcome Christ withal; but Christ sends his provision before, and comes, 
as we say, to his own cost. He sends a spirit of faith, a spirit of love, a 
spirit of obedience. 1. Some are content to invite others, but are loth to 
go to others, as if it were against state. They would have wherewith to 
entertain Christ, but are unwilling to be beholden to Christ. 2. Some are 
content to have benefit by Christ, as his righteousness to cover them, &c., 
but they desire not grace to entertain Christ ; but a heart truly gracious 
desireth both to delight in Christ, and that Christ may delight in it. It 
desireth grace together with mercy, holiness with happiness. Christ could 
not delight in his love to us, if we by his grace had not a love planted in 
our hearts to him. But to come to speak of this feast. 

"We see it pleaseth Christ to veil heavenly matters with comparisons 
fetched from earthly things, that so he may enter into our souls the better 
by our senses. 

1. Christ maketh us a feast, a marriage feast, a marriage feast with the 
King's Son, of all feasts the most magnificent. A feast, fii'st, in regard of 
the choice rarities we have in Christ. We have the best, and the best of 
the best. * Fat things, and the marrow of fatness ; wine, and wine on the 
lees,' Isa. xxv. 6, refined, that presei'veth the strength. The comforts we 
have from Christ, are the best comforts ; the peace, the best peace ; the 
privileges, the highest privileges. ' His flesh,' crucified for us, to satisfy 
divine justice, ' is meat indeed ; his blood, shed for us, is drink indeed,' John 
vi. 55; that is, the only meat and drink to refresh our souls ; because these feed 
our souls, and that to eternal hfe. The love of God the Father in giving 
Christ to death ; and Christ's love in giving himself, together with full 
contentment to divine justice ; this gift it is that the soul especially feeds 
on. \Vhat could Chi-ist give, better than himself to feed on ? He thought 
nothing else worthy for the soul to feed on ; and this it daily feeds on, as 
daily guilt riseth from the breakings out of the remainder of con-uption. 
Other dainties are from this ; from hence we have the Spirit, and graces of 
the Spirit. If he giveth himself, will he not give all things with himself? 

2. As Christ maketh a feast of choice things for his elect and choice spouse, 
so there is variety, as in a feast. ' Christ is made to us of God, wisdom, 
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,' 1 Cor. i. 30, that we should 
not be too much cast down with thought of our own folly, guilt, unholiness, 
and misery. There is that in Christ which answereth to all our wants, and 

CaKT. V, l.J ' EAT, O FEIEKDS ; DRINK.' 88 

an all-sufficiency for all degrees of happiness. Therefore, ho hath terms 
from whatsoever is glorious and comfortable in heaven and earth. Christ 
is all marrow, all sweetness. All the several graces and comforts we have, 
and the several promises whereby they are made over and conveyed unto 
us, are but Christ dished out in several manner, as the need of every 
Christian shall require. Christ himself is the ocean, issuing into several 
streams, to refresh the city of God. We can be in no condition, but wo 
have a promise to feed on, and ' all promises are yea and amen,' 2 Cor. i. 
20,' made to us ' in Christ,' and performed to us ' for Christ.' 

8. Therefore, as we have in Christ a feast for variety, so for suficiency of 
all good. No man goeth hungry from a feast. It was never heard for any 
to famish at a feast. In Christ there is not only abundance, but redun- 
dance, a diffusive and a spreading goodness ; as in breasts to give milk, 
in clouds to drop down showers, in the sun to send forth beams. As 
Christ is full of grace and truth, so he fully dischargeth all his offices. 
There is an overflowing of all that is good for our good. He that could 
multiply bread for the bodj^, he can multiply grace for our soul. If he 
giveth life, he giveth it in abundance, John x. 10. If he giveth water of 
life, he giveth rivers, not small streams, John vii. 38. If he giveth peace 
and joy, he giveth it in abundance ; his scope is to fill up our joy to the 
full. As he is able, so * is he willing to do for us far more abundantly than 
we are able to think or speak,' Eph. iii. 20. Where Christ is present, he 
briugeth plenty with him. If wine be wanting at the first, he will rather 
turn water into wine, than there should be a fail. 

4. In a feast there is variety of friendhj company ; so here friends are 
stirred up to refresh themselves with us. We have the blessed Trinity, the 
angels, and all our fellow-members in Christ to come with us. 

There is no envy in spiritual things, wherein whatsoever the one hath, 
the other hath not the less. 

5. In a feast, because it is intended for rejoicing, the^-e is music; and 
what music like to the sweet harmony between God, reconciled in Christ, 
and the soul, and between the soul and itself, in inward peace and joy of 
the Holy Ghost, shedding the love of Christ in the soul. We do not only 
joy, but glory, under hope of glory, and in afflictions, and in God now as 
ours, in whom now by Christ we have an interest, Rom. vi. 2-10. When 
we come sorrowful to this feast, we depart cheerful. This, as David's harp, 
stills all passions and distempers of spirit. 

The founder and master of the feast is Christ himself; and withal is 
both guest, and banquet, and all. All graces and comforts are the fruits 
of his Spirit; and he alone that infused the soul, can satisfy the soul. He 
that is above the conscience can only quiet the conscience. He is that 
wisdom that ' sends forth maids,' Prov. is. 3, his ministers, to invite to his 
feast. It is he that cheereth up his guests, as here. Those that invited 
others, brought ointment, and poured it out upon them, to shew their wel- 
come, and to cheer them up, as may appear by our Saviour's speech to the 
Pharisee that invited him, Luke vii. 44. So we have from Christ both the 
oil of grace and oil of gladness, * He creates the fruits of the lips to be 
peace,' Isa. Ivii. 19, speaking that peace and joy to the heart that others 
do to the ear. ' He raiseth pastors according to his own heart, to feed his 
sheep,' Jer. iii. 15. 

The vessels wherein Christ conveyeth his dainties are the ministry of the 
word and sacraments. By the word and sacraments we come to enjoy 
Christ and his comforts and graces ; and by this feast of grace we come at 

VOL. II. c 


length to the feast of feasts, that feast of glory, when we shall be satisfied 
with the image of God, and enjoy fulness of pleasures for evermore ; and, 
which adds to the fulness, we shall fully know that it shall be a never- 
interrupted joy. 

We see, then, that we cannot please Christ better than in shewing our- 
selves welcome, by cheerful taking part of his rich provision. It is an 
honour to his bounty to fall to ; and it is the temper of spirit that a Chris- 
tian aims at, to ' rejoice always in the Lord,' Phil. iv. 4, and that from 
enjoying our privileges in him. We are not bidden to mourn always, but 
to ' rejoice always,' and that upon good advisement ; ' Rejoice,' and ' I say 
again,' saith St Paul, ' rejoice.' Indeed, we have causes of mourning, but it 
is that the seed of joy should be sown in mourning ; and we can never be in so 
forlorn a condition, wherein, if we understand Christ and ourselves, we have 
not cause of joy. ' In me,' saith Christ, ' ye shall have peace,' John x\i. 33. 
The world will feed us with ' bread of affliction,' Hos. ix. 4. If the world 
can help it, we shall have sorrow enough ; and Christ knows that well 
enough, and stu's us up to a cheerful feeding on that he hath procured for 
us. He hath both will, and skill, and power, and authority to feed us to 
everlasting life, for the Father sent him forth, and sealed him to that pur- 
pose. All the springs of om* joy axe from him, Ps. Ixxsvii. 7. 

Our duty is to accept of Christ's inviting of us. What will we do for him, 
if we will not feast with him ? We will not suffer with him, if we will not 
feast with him ; we will not suffer with him, if we wiU not joy with him, 
and in him. Happy are they that come, though compelled by crosses and 
other sharp ways. If we rudely and churhshly refuse his feast here, we 
are hke never to taste of his feast hereafter. Nothing provokes so deeply 
as kindness despised. It was the cause of the Jews' rejection. ' How 
shall we escape,' not if we persecute, but ' if we do but neglect so great 
salvation ? ' Heb. ii. 3. 

That which we should laboui- to bring with us is a taste of these dainties, 
and an appetite to them. The soul hath a taste of its own, and as aU 
creatures that have life have a taste to relish and distinguish of that which 
is good for them, from that which is offensive, so wheresoever spiritual Hfe 
is, there is likewise a taste suitable to the sweet rehsh that is in spiritual 
things. God should lose the gloiy of many excellent creatures if there were 
not several senses to discern of several goodness in them. So if there were 
not a taste in the soul, we could never delight in God, and his rich good- 
ess in Christ. 

Taste is the most necessary sense for the preservation of the creature, 

ecause there is nearest application in taste ; and that we should not be 

'eceived in taste, we hear, see, and smell before, and if these senses give 

1 good report of the object, then we taste of it and digest it, and turn it 

nto fit nourishment. Omnis vita gustu ducitur. So the spirit of man, after 

udgment of the fitness of what is presented, tastes of it, dehghts in it, and 

s nourished by it. There is an attractive, drawing power in the soul, 

whereby every member sucks that out of the food that is convenient for it. 

So the soul draws out what is well digested by judgment, and makes it its 

own for several uses. 

The chief thing that Christ requireth is a good stomach to these dainties. 

1. The means to procure an appetite. We axe first to he sensible of 
spiritual wants and misery. The passover lamb was eaten with sour herbs ; 
so Christ crucified, relisheth best to a soul affected with bitterness of sin. 
Whilst men are rich in their conceit, they go empty away. The duties and 

Cant. V. 1.] ' eat, o fkiends ; deink.' 85 

performances they trust to, are but husks, windy, empty chaff. Swelling 
is not kind nourishment. 

2. That which hinders the sharpness of the stomach are, cold defiuxions, 
that didl and flat the edge of it. So upon plodding upon the world, cold 
distillations drop upon the soul, and take away the ' savour and desire of 
heavenly things. These things fill not. There is both a vanity of empti- 
ness, and a vanity of short continuance in them. ' Why should we lay out 
our money,' Isa. Iv. 2, spend our time, our wits, om* endeavour so much 
about them ? This makes so many starvelings in religion. 

Besides, there be other noisome affections to be purged, as 1 Pet. ii. 1, 
[' Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, 
and all evil speakings,' which breed a distaste and disaffection to spiritual 
things ;] as malice and guile, &c. How can Christ be sweet to that soul 
unto which revenge is sweet ! 

3. Exercise quickens appetite. Those that exercise themselves unto godli- 
ness, see a need of spiritual strength to maintain duty. A dull formalist 
keeps his round, and is many years after where he vras before ; sees no need 
of fui'ther growth or strength. A Christian life, managed as it should be 
indeed, as it hath much going out, so it must have much coming in. It will 
not else be kept up. Those that have a journey to go, wiU refresh them- 
selves for afterward, lest they faint by the way. 

4. Company likewise of such as ' labour for that blessed food that endureth 
to hfe eternal,' John vi. 27, provoketh to fall too as the rest do, especially 
if they be equal or go beyond us in parts. For we will reason with our- 
selves, Have not I as much need as they ? If these things be good for them, 
then they are good for me. 

Thus St Paul foretelleth, that the example of the Gentiles should provoke 
the Jews to come in, and taste of the banquet Christ hath provided for both, 
Rom. xi. 25, 26. Especially this should stir us up earnestly to take our 
part in that Chi'ist hath provided, because we know not how soon the table 
may be taken away. When men see the dishes in removing, though before 
they have discoursed away much time of their supper, yet then they will fall 
fresh to it. We know not how long -wisdom will be inviting of us. It will be 
our wisdom to take our time, lest we put off so long, as wisdom herself 
laughs at om* destruction ; and a famine be sent, of all famines the most 
miserable, a famine of the word, and then we may pine away eternally 
without comfort. Christ will not always stand inviting of us. If we will 
none of his cheer, others will, and shall, when we shall starve. 

Let this draw us on, that we see here Chi'ist's hearty and free welcome, 
the gi'acious look that we are hke to have from him. He counts it an 
honour, since he hath made such rich provision, for us to take part, and 
for our part, shew our unwillingness, that such free kindness should be 
refused. Wo cannot honour his bounty more than to feed liberally of that 
he UberaUy sets before us. We are glad to perceive our friends upon imi- 
tation to think themselves welcome. Let us open our mouth wide, since 
Christ is so ready to fill it. We are not straitened in his love, but in our 
own hearts. The widow's oil failed not till her vessels failed, 2 Kings iv. 6. 
We are bidden to delight in the Lord, and in whom should we delight, but 
■where all fulness is to be had to deUght in ? Our spirits are not so lai'ge 
as those blessed comforts are which we are called to the enjoyment of. If 
the capacity of our souls were a thousand times larger, yet there is so large 
a sea of comfort in Christ, as they are not able to comprehend it. A tasta 
of these good things breeds 'joy unspeakable,' and ' peace that passeth all 


understanding,' Philip, iv. 7. What will the fulness do ? This taste we 
feel in the ordinances will bring us to that fahiess hereafter. Oh, let us 
keep our appetites for these things which are so delightful, so suitable to 
the soul. How great is that goodness which he both lays up for hereafter, 
and lays out for his,- even here in this life ! 

In some ages of the church, the feasts that Christ hath made have been 
more solemn and sumptuous than in other thereafter, as Christ hath been 
more or less clearly and generally manifested. At Christ's first coming 
there was a greater feast than before ; because the riches of God's love in 
Christ were then laid open, and the pale of the church was enlarged by the 
coming in of the Gentiles. So will there be a royal feast, when the Jews 
shall be converted. ' Blessed then shall those be that shall be called to 
the supper of the Lamb,' Rev. xix. 9. Suppers are in the end of the day, 
and this supper shall be furnished towards the end of the world. 

But then will be the true magnificent supper, when all that belong to 
God's election shall meet together, and feed upon that heavenly manna for 
ever. Then there will be nothing but marrow itself, and wine without all 
dregs. In all our contentments here, there is some mixture of the contrary; 
then nothing but pure quintessence. In the mean time, he lets fall some 
manna in this our wilderness, he lets us relish that now. It will not 
putrefy as the other manna did, but endure, and make us endure for ever. 
It's the true ' bread of life.' 

Mark how Christ draws his spouse on to drink, and drink abundantly. 
There is no danger of taking too much. Where the spring is infinite, we 
can never di-aw these wells dry, never suck these breasts of consolation too 
much ; and the more strong and cheerful we are, the better service we 
shall perform, and the more accepted. Delight is as sugar, sweet in itself, 
and it sweetens all things else. The joy of the Lord is our strength. 
Duties come off more gracefully, and religion is made more lovely in the 
eyes of all, when it comes forth in strength and cheerfulness. Christ's 
housekeeping is credited hereby. In our Father's house is plenty enough, 
Luke XV. 17. WTien the martyrs had drunk largely of this wine, it made 
them forget friends, riches, honours, life itself. The joy stirred up by it, 
carried them through all torments. 

If any be hindered by conceit of unworthiness, if affected deeply with it, 
let them consider what kind of men were compelled to the banquet, the 
blind, the lame, Luke xiv. 21. See a lively picture of God's mercy in the 
example of the prodigal. He fears sharp chiding, and the father provides 
a rich banquet. He goeth to his father, but the father runs to meet him, 
Luke XV. 20. Did Chi-ist ever turn back any that came unto him, if they 
came out of a true sense of their wants ? 

' Eat, friends.' Christ, out of the largeness of his affections, multiplieth 
new titles and compellations — ' beloved ' and ' friends.' Chi'ist provides a 
banquet, and invites his friends, not his enemies. Those good things that 
neither ' eye hath seen, nor ear hath heard, that are above our conceit to 
apprehend,' 1 Cor. ii. 9 ; these are provided for ' those that love him,' 
not that hate him. He mingles another cup for them, ' a cup of -nTath,' 
and they are to ' drink up the very di-egs of it,' Ps. Ixxv. 8. Friendship 
is the sweetness, intimateness, and strength of love. In our friends our 
love dwells and rests itself. Conjugal friendship is the sweetest friendship. 
All the kinds and degrees of friendship meet in Christ towards his spouse. 
It is the friendship of a husband, of a brother ; and if there be any relation in 
the world wherein friendship is, all is too little to express the love of Christ. 

Cant. V. 1.] 'eat, o friends; drink.' 87 

In friendsliip there is mutual consent, an union of judgment and affec- 
tions. There is a mutual sympathy in the good and ill one of another, as if 
there were one soul in two hodies (b). There be mutual friends and mutual 
enemies. * Do I not hate them,' saith David, 'that hate thee?' Ps. cxxxix. 
21. There is mutual love of one another for their own sakes. In flattery, 
men love themselves most ; in semblance, love others, but all is in reflec- 
tion to themselves. 

There is libei'ty which is the life of friendship ; there is a free intercourse 
between friends, a free opening of secrets. So hero Christ openeth his 
secrets to us, and we to him. We acquaint him with the most hidden 
thoughts of our hearts, and we lay open all our cares and desires before 
him. Thus Abraham was called God's friend, 2 Chron. xx. 7, and the 
disciples Christ's friends, John xv. 15. It is the office of the Spirit to 
reveal the secrets of Christ's heart to us, concerning our own salvation. He 
doth not reveal himself to the world. 

In friendship, there is mutual solace and comfort one in another. Christ 
deUghteth himself in his love to his church, and his church delighteth her- 
self in her love to Christ, Christ's delight was to be with the sons of men, 
and ours is to be with him. 

In friendship there is a mutual honour and respect one of another ; but 
here is some difi"erence in this fi'iendship. For though Christ calls us 
friends, and therein in some sort brings himself down to us, yet we must 
remember that this is a friendship of unequals. Christ's honouring of U3 
IS his putting honour upon us. Our honouring of him is the gi\'ing him 
the ' honour due to his name,' 1 Chron. xvi. 29. This friendship must be 
maintained by due respect on our parts. As he is our friend, so he is our 
king, and knows how to correct us if we forget our distance. If he here 
seem to use us hardly, it is that he may use us the more kindly after. 
He sufiers much for us, therefore we may well allow him the liberty of 
seasonable correcting of us. 

He that inspireth friendship into others will undoubtedly keep the laws 
of friendship himself, will count our enemies his enemies. The enemies 
of the church shall one day know that the church is not friendless. 

And as his friendship is sweet, so constant in all conditions. He useth 
not his fi-iends as we do flowers, regard them only when they are fresh ; 
but he breeds that in us that may make us such as he may still deHght in 
us. If other friends fail, as friends may fail, yet this friend will never fail 
us. If we be not ashamed of him, he will never be ashamed of us. How 
comfortable would our life be if we could draw out the comfort that this title 
of friend afibrdeth ! It is a comfortable, a fruitful, an eternal friendship. 

' I sleep, but my heart waketh.' Here the church expresseth a change- 
able passage of her spiritual condition, after she had recovered herself out 
of a former desertion, expressed in the beginning of the third chapter ; and 
enjoyed a comfortable intercourse with Christ. Now she falleth into a 
deeper desertion and temptation, from the remainder of corruption getting 
strength. The church now falleth asleep, then was awake in the night, 
and sought her beloved. Here is no present awaking, no seeking ; there 
no misusage by the watchmen, as here. There she findeth him more 
speedily ; here she falls sick with love before Christ discovcreth himself. 

Before we come to the words, observe in general, 

Obs. 1. That the state of the Church and every Christian is subject to spi- 
ritnal alterations. The church is always ' beloved,' a ' spouse,' a ' friend ;' 
but in this one state there falleth out variety of changes. No creature sub- 


ject to so many changes as man. From a state of innocency he fell into a 
state of corruption. From that he, by grace, is restored to a state of grace, 
and from grace to glory, where his condition shall be as Christ's now is, and 
as heaven the place is, altogether michangeable. And in that state of 
grace, how many intercourses be there ! the foundation of God's love to us, 
and grace in us always remaining the same. Once beloved, for ever beloved. 

We see here, after a feast, the chvirch falleth asleep. See it in Abra- 
ham, sometimes ' strong in faith,' sometimes fearful. David sometimes 
standing, sometimes falling, sometimes recovering himself and standing 
faster, sometimes triumphing, ' The Lord is the light of my countenance, 
whom shall I fear ? ' Ps. xxvii. 1 ; sometimes, again, ' I shall one day fall 
by the hands of Saul,' 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. In the very same psalm he begins 
with ' Rebuke me not in thy wrath,' and ends with ' Away, ye wicked,' Ps. 
vi. 1, 10. Elias, though zealous, yet after flies for his life, 1 I{ings xix. 
So Job, Peter, sometimes resolute and valiant, other while sinks for fear, 
Job vi. ; Mat. xiv. 30. 

The reason. The ground is, by reason of variety of outward occurrences 
working upon the diversity of principles in us, nature and grace. Both 
nature and grace are always active in us in some degree. When corrup- 
tion gets strength, then we find a sick state creeping upon us, and lose our 
former frame. It is with the soul as with the body. In a certain period 
of time it gathereth ill humours, which break out into aguish distempers at 
length ; so the relics of a spiritual disease not carried away, will ripen and 
gather to ahead. This should teach us, when we are well, to study to keep 
an even course, and to watch over the first stirrings, and likewise, if we see 
some unevenness in our ways, not to censure om'selves or others over 
harshly. Exact evenness is to be striven after here, but to be enjoyed in 
another world. 

Ohs. 2. We see, by comparing the state of the chm-ch here with the 
state of it in the third chapter, that ivhere corruption is not thoroughly purged, 
and a careful icatch kept over the soid, thereafter* a recovery, tvillfoUoic a more 
dangerous distemper. Corruption will not only strive for Hfe, but for rule. 
If there had been a thorough reformation in the church after her former 
trouble, and a thorough closing with Christ, she would not thus have fallen 
into a more dangerous condition. We see David, in his later times, falls 
to ' numbering of the people,' 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, seq. ; and Samson, after he had 
done great services for the church, at length shamefully betrays his strength ; 
and he that had ruled others submits to be ruled by a base strumpet, Jud. xvi. 
Jonah, for not thorough repenting for his running from his calling, falls 
after to quarrel with God himself, Jonah iv. 9. It is the best, therefore, to 
deal thoroughly with our hearts, else flesh imsubdued will owe us a greater 
shame, and we shall dishonour our own beginnings. Yet this is the com- 
fort, that this will occasion deeper humility and hatred of sin in those that 
are God's, and a faster cleaving to God than ever before, as we see in the 
church here. Afterwards grace will have the better at last. 

Obs. 3. We may observe the ingenuity f of the church in laying open her 
own state. It is the disposition of God's people to be ingenuous in open- 
ing their state to God, as in David, Nehemiah, Ezra, &c. 

The reason is thus : — 

(1.) By a free and full confession we give God the honour of his wisdom 
in knoicing of our own condition, secret and open. We give him the honour 
of mercy that will not take advantage against us, the honour of power and 
* Qu. 'there, after?' — Ed. f That is, ' ingenuousness.' — G 

Cant. V. 1.] ' i sleep.' 89 

authority over us, if ho should show his strength against us. We yield 
unto him the glory of all his chief prerogatives ; whereupon Joshua movetb 
Achan to a free confession, * My son, give glory to God,' Joshixa vii. 19. 

(2.) We shame Satan, who first takes away shame of sinning, and then 
takes away shame for sin. He tempts us not to be ashamed to do that we 
are ashamed to confess, so we, by silence, keep Satan's counsel against 
our own souls. If we accuse ourselves, we put him out of office who is the 
* accuser of the brethren,' Kev. xii. 10. 

(3.) We prevent, likewise, malicious imputations from the world. Austin 
answered roundly and well when he was upbraided with the sins of his for- 
mer age : ' What thou,' saith he, ' findest fault with, I have condemned in 
myself before.' Quce tu rcprchendis, ego damnari. 

(4.) This ingenuous dealing easeth the soul, giving vent to the grief of it. 
Whiles the aiTow's head sticks in the wound, it will not heal. Sin uneon- 
fessed is like a broken piece of rusty iron in the body, ferrum in vulnere. 
It must be gotten out, else it will, by rankling and festering, cause more 
danger. It is like poison in the stomach, if it be not presently cast up it 
will infect the whole body. Is it not better to take shame to ourselves now, 
than to be shamed hereafter before angels, devils, and men ? How careful 
is God of us, by this private way to prevent future shame ! 

(5.) This faithful dealing with ourselves is oft a means oi present delivery 
out of any trouble. David, in Ps. xxsii. 4, was in a gi-eat distemper both 
of body and spirit ; his moisture was turned into the drought of summer. 
It is thought he made this psalm between the time of his sin and his par- 
don. What coui'se taketh he ? 'I said,' saith he, that is, ' I resolved to 
confess my sin, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin,' ver. 5. Upon 
a fi'ee and full, a faithful and ingenuous confession, without all guile of 
spirit, he found ease presently, both in soul and body. The cause of God's 
severe dealing with us is, that we should deal severely with ourselves. The 
best trial of religion in us is by those actions whereby we reflect on our- 
selves by judging and condemning of ourselves, for this argueth a spirit 
without guile. Sin and shifting* came into the world together. The sub- 
tnty of proud nature, especially in eminency, is such that sins may pass 
for virtues, because sin and Satan are alike in this, they cannot endure to 
appear in their own colour and habit, and so those that oppose it shall be 
accounted opposers of good. This guile of spirit hath no blessedness be- 
longing to it. Take heed of it. 

Ohs. 4. Mark, further, one sign of a gracious soul, to he abased for lesser 
defects, sleepiness, and indisjwsition to good. One would think drowsiness 
were no such great matter. Oh, but the church had such sweet acquaint- 
ance with Christ, that every little indisposition that hindered any degree 
of communion was grievous to her ! You shall have a Judas, a Saul, an 
enormous offender confess great falls that gripe his conscience. All shall 
be cast up, that the conscience, being disburdened, may feel a little ease ; 
but how few have you humbled for dulness of spirit, want of love, of zeal, 
and cheerfulness in duty ? This, accompanied with strife against it, argues 
a good spirit indeed. 

A carnal man is not more humbled for gross sins than a gracious Chris- 
tian for wants in good actions, when it is not with him as it hath been, 
and as he would. The reason is, where there is a clear and heavenly light, 
there lesser motes are discernible ; and spiritual life is sensible of any ob- 
struction and hindrance. This goeth in the world for unnecessary nicety (c). 
* That is. ' oviisioua. expedients.' — G. 


The world straineth not at these gnats. But those upon whose hearts the 
sun of righteousness hath shined have both a clear sight and a tender heart. 

To come to the words, ' I sleep.' The church fetcheth a comparison 
from the body to express the state of the soul. It is one use of our body 
to help us in spiritual expressions. Whilst the soul dwelleth in the body, 
it dependeth much in the conceiving of things upon the phantasy,* and the 
phantasy upon the senses. We come to conceive of spiritual sleep by sleep 
of the body, which we are all well enough acquainted with. 

The church, as she consists of a double principle, flesh and spirit mingled 
together in all parts, as darkness and light in the twilight and dawning of 
the day ; so here she expresseth her condition in regard of either part. So 
far as she was carnal, she slept; so far as she was spiritual, she was awake. 

In this mixed condition the flesh for the present prevailed, yet so as the 
spirit had its working; * she slept, but her heart waked.' 

The words contain a confession, 'I sleep;' and a correction, 'but my 
heart waketh.' She hath a double aspect, one to the ill, 'her sleeping;' the 
other to the good, ' the heart in some degree awaked.' The Spirit of God 
is a discerning Spirit, it discovereth what is flesh and what is spirit. 

So that we must not conceive this sleep to be that dead sleep all men are 
in by nature, nor to be that judicial sleep, that spirit of slumber, which is a 
further degree of that natural sleep to which God giveth up some, as a seal 
of their desperate condition ; but here is meant that sleep that ariseth out 
of the remainder of corruption unsubdued, and now, is here in the church, 
prevailing over the better part. Flesh and spirit have both their inter- 
course in us, as Moses and Amalek had. Unless we stand upon our guard, 
the flesh will get the upper ground, as we see here. The best are no further 
safe than they are watchful. 

For the clear understanding of this, observe some correspondency in the 
resemblance ; wherein too much curiosity is loathsome,! and postill-like (d); 
and calleth the mind too much from the kernel to the shell. 

Bodily and spiritual sleep resemble each other in the causes, in the 
effects, and in the dangerous issue. 

1. The sleep of the body cometh from the obstruction and binding irp of 
the senses by vapours tchicli arise out of the stomach. So there be spiritual 
fumes of worldly cares and desires that obstruct the senses of the soul. 
Therefore our blessed Saviour counts it a spiritual surfeiting, when the soul 
is oppressed with care about the world, Luke xxi. 34. Lusts bring the 
soul a-bed. Prosperity is a strong vapour. If it overcome not the brain, 
yet it weakeneth it, as strong waters do. See it in Solomon himself. 

2. The disciples fell asleep in the garden when they were oppressed icith 
heaviness and sorrow, Luke xxii. 45, which passions will have the like effect 
upon the soul. 

3. Sleep ariseth oft from tceariness and icant of spirits. So there is a 
spiritual weariness arising from discouragements and too much expense I of 
the strength of the soul upon other matters ; upon impertinencies that con- 
cern not the best state of the soul. 

4. Some are brought asleep by music. So many, by flattering enticements 
and insinuations of others, joining with their own flattering, deceitful heart, 
are cast into a spiritual sleep. 

5. Sleep ariseth from want of exercise. When there is a cessation from 
spiritual exercise, about the proper object of it, there followeth a spiritual 
sleep. Exercise keeps waking. 

* That ]'?, 'fancy.' — G. f That is, 'offensive.' — G. t Tliat is, 'expenditure.' — G, 

Cant. V. 1.] 'i sleep.' 41 

6. Sleep ariseth oft from cold diseases, as lethargies; from cold, gross 
humours. Cold, earthly, gross affections about the things here below, 
benumb the soul, and bring it into a heavy, drowsy, sleepy temper. 

7. Sometimes sleep is caused by some kind ofjyoisou, especially the poison 
of asps, which kills in sleeping. And do not sinful delights do the like to 
the soul ? Insensible evils are the most dangerous evils. 

8. Otherwhile slothful, ijaivniufji company dispose to sleep. There is no 
more ordinary cause of spiritual sleep, than conversing with spiritual slug- 
gards, that count it a high point of wisdom not to be forward in religion. 
These formal, proud persons, as they are cold themselves, so they labour to 
cast water upon the heat of others. Nay, those that are otherwise good, 
if declining in their first love, will incline others to a fellowship in the same 
secure temper, lest they should be upbraided by the vigilancy of others. 
They are like in the effects. 

1. Men disposed to be asleep desire to be alone. Those likewise that 
are disposed to take a spiritual nap, will avoid company, especially of such 
as would awake them. They will hardly endure rousing means. 

2. Men will draw the curtains and shut out light, when they mean to com- 
pose themselves to rest. So when men favour themselves in some ways 
not allowable, they are afraid to be disquieted by the light. Light both 
discovereth, awaketh, and stirs up to working. And men when they are 
loth to do what they know, are loth to know what they should do. 
'They that sleep, sleep in the night,' 1 Thess. v. 7. Asa, otherwise a good 
Mng, shut up the prophet in prison for doing his duty, 2 Chron. xvi. 10. 
Much of the anger that men bear against the word laid open to them, is 
because it will not suffer them to sleep quietly in then- sins. Such as will 
suffer them to live quietly in their sins,— they are quiet and honest men. 
There cannot be a worse sign than when men will not endure wholesome 
words. It is a sign they are in an ill league with that they should above all 
wage war against. 

3. In sleep, phantasy ruleth, and dreams in phantasy. Men in sleep 
dream of false good, and forget true danger. 

Many cherish golden dreams ; flream of meat, and when they awake, 
their soul is empty, Isa. xxix. 8. Vain hopes are the dreams of waking 
men, as vain dreams are all the waking of sleeping and carnal men, whose 
life is but a dream. 

In sleep, there is no exercise of senses or motion. As then, men are not 
sensible of good or ill, they move neither to good or ill. Motion folio weth 
sensibleness. What good we are not sensible of, we move not unto. 
Hence sleep is of kin to death, for the time, depriving us of the use of all 
senses ; and a secure professor in appearance differs little from a dead pro- 
fessor. Both of them are unactive in good ; and what they do, they do it 
without delight, in an uncomely and unacceptable manner, unbeseeming the 
state of a Christian. It is all one to have no senses, and not to use them. 
We may say of men in this sleepy temper, as the Scripture speaks of idols, 
' they have eyes and see not, ears and hear not,' &c., Ps. cxv. 5. 

So likewise they are alike in danger. In sleep, the preciousest thing men 
carry about them is taken away without resistance ; and they are ready to 
let loose what they held fast before, were it never so rich a jewel. And it 
is so in spiritual sleepiness. Men suffer the profession of the truth to be 
wrung from them, without much withstanding ; and with letting fall their 
watch, let fall likewise, if not their grace, yet the exercise of their graces, 
and arc in dancrer to be robbed of all. 


There is no danger but a man in sleep is fair for, and exposed unto. 
Sisera was slain asleep, Jud. v. 26, and Ishbosheth at noonday, 2 Sam. iv. 7 ; 
and there is no temptation, no sin, no judgment, but a secure, drowsy 
Christian is open for ; which is the ground of so oft enforcing watchfulness 
by the Spirit of God in the Scriptures. As spiritual deadness of spirit is a 
cause of other sin, so likewise it is a punishment of them. God poureth a 
spirit of ' dead sleep upon men, and closeth up their eyes,' Isa. xxix. 10, 
till some heavy judgment falleth upon them ; and how many carnal men 
never awake in this world, till they awake in hell ! No wonder there- 
fore that Satan labours to cast men into a dead sleep all that he can ; 
and deludes them, with di'eams of a false good, that their estate is good, 
and like so to continue; that to-morrow shall be as to-day; that no danger 
is near, though God's wrath hangeth over their head, ready to be revealed 
from heaven. 

Thus we see how the resemblance holds. Some apply this to Constan- 
tino's time, about three hundred years after Christ, when the church upon 
peace and plenty grew secure, and suffered ecclesiastical abuses to creep in. 
Religion begat plenty, and the daughter devoured the mother. This made 
the writers of the ecclesiastical stories, to question whether the church hath 
more hm't by open persecution or peace, when one Christian undermineth 
and rageth against another.* Human inventions were so multiplied, that 
not long after, in Augustine's time, he complained that the condition of the 
Jews was more tolerable than theirs ; f for though the Jev\'S were under 
burdens, yet they were such as were imposed by God himself, and not 
human presumptions. But Gerson many hundred years after increaseth 
his complaint. I If, Augustine, thou saidst thus in thy time, what wouldst 
thou have said if thou hadst lived now, when men, as a toy§ taketh them 
in the head, will multiply burdens ? And he was not afraid to say, that 
the number of human Constitutions was such, that if they were observed 
in rigour, the greatest part of the church would be damned. Thus, whilst 
the husbandmen slept, the envious man Satan slept not, but sew|l his tares. 
Thus popery grew up by degrees, till it overspread the church, whilst the 
watchmen that should have kept others awake, fell asleep themselves. And 
thus we answer the papists, when they quarrel with us about the beginning 
of their errors. They ask of us, when such and such an heresy began ? We 
answer, that those that should have observed them, were asleep. Popery 
is a mystery that crept into the church by degrees, under glorious pre- 
tences.^ Their errors had modest beginnings. Worshipping of images 
arose from reserving the pictures of friends, and after that were brought 
into the church. Invocation of saints arose from some of the fathers' 
figurative turning of their speech to some that were dead, Transubstantia- 
tion had rise from some transcendent, unwaiy phrases of the fathers. The 
papacy itself, fi'om some titles of the Romish Church and bishop. Nothing 
in popery so gross, but had some small beginnings, which being neglected 
by those that should have watched over the church, grew at length unsuffer- 
able. No wonder if the papists be cast into a dead sleep ; they have drunk 
too deep of the whore's cup. They that worship images are, as the Scrip- 

* Thoodoret, lib 5. 

t Augustine, Epist. ad Januar. cxix. Tolerabilior Judaeorum conditio quam nostra. 

X Si tuo tempore liffic dicebas (0 sapiens Augustine) quid nostra tempestate 
dixisses? Si tenorentur in suo rigore, maxima pars Ecclesise damnaretur. Gerson 
de vit. spiritual. g That is, ' trifle.' — G. 

II That is, ' sowed.'— G. If See Memoir of Sibbes, vol. i. p. Ixv. 

Cant, V. 1.] i sleep.' 43 

ture saith, ' like unto them, they have eyes and see not,' &c., Ps. cxv. 5. 
They cannot discern of their errors, though they be never so ridiculous and 
senseless, as prayer in an unknown tongue, and such like. 

And upon this state of the church let us add this caution. 

A Caution. If the best men be so prone to sleep, then ue cannot safely at 
all times build upon their judgment. The fathers of the church were not 
always awake. There be few of them, but in some things we may appeal 
from themselves sleeping, to themselves waking. The best, having some 
darkness left in their understandings, and some lusts unsubdued in their 
afiections, may write and speak sometimes out of the worst part and 
principle that is in them, as well as out of the best, when they keep not 
close to the rule. 

"When our adversaries press us with the authority of fathers, we appeal 
to them, where they speak advisedly and of pm-pose.* When they were 
not awaked by heretics, they speak sometimes unworthily, and give advan- 
tages to heretics that followed. It is the manner of our adversaries to 
make the imwarrantable practice of the ancienter time a rule of their prac- 
tice, and the doubtful opinions of the ancients their own grand tenets ; 
wherein in both they deal unsafely for themselves, and injuriously towards 
us, when we upon grounds in some things dissent; which liberty (oft when 
they should not) they will take to themselves. 

But howsoever this sleepy condition agi'eeth to the fonner times of the 
chui'ch, yet I wish there were not cause to apply it to ourselves, in this 
latter age of the church, wherein many of the ancient heresies are revived ; 
and besides, the evils that accompany long peace take hold of us, and will 
prevail too far, if we do not rouse up ourselves. The chui-ch is in the 
commonwealth, and usually they flemish and fall together. When there 
is a sleep of the church, for the most paxt there is a sleep of the state. A 
civil sleep is, when in grounds of danger there is no apprehension of dan- 
ger ; and this sleep is a punishment of spiritual sleep, when with Ephraim 
a state hath ' grey hairs, and knoweth it not,' Hos. vii. 9 ; when judgments 
abroad will not awake men. When noise and pinching will not awake, the 
sleep must needs be deep. The whole world almost is in combustion 
round about us ; and many countries thought themselves as safe, a little 
before their troubles, as we now think ourselves. If fear of outward dan- 
gers will not awake, then spiritual dangers will not, as being more secret. 
and not ob-sdous to sense. No wonder, then, if few will beheve our report 
of the fearful condition of wicked men in the world to come. A man may 
be startled and awaked mth outward dangers that is spiritually sottish, but 
he that is cai'eless of outward danger, will be regardless of what we say in 
spiritual dangers. The feai- of danger may be the greater, when, as it was 
amongst the Jews, those that should be watchful themselves, and awake 
others, instead of awaking, rock the cradle, and cry * Peace, peace, the temple 
of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,' Jer. vii. 4. Yet we must never forget 
to be mindful, with thankfulness, for peace and the gospel of peace, which 
yet by God's blessing we enjoy, always suspecting the readiness of nature 
to grow secure vmder the abundance of favours, and so to bless om-selves 
in that condition. 

Signs of a sleepy state. 1. Now we know that sleep is creeping upon us, 
by comparing our present condition with our former, when we were in a more 
wakeful frame, when the graces of God's Spu-it were in exercise in us. If 
we difier from that we were, then all is not well. 

• Patrea in maxirais sunt nostri, in multis varii, in minimis vcstri. — WhlitafcerJ. 


2. Compare ourselves again with that state and frame that a Christian 
should he in ; for sometimes a Christian goes under an uncomfortable 
condition all the days of his life, so that he is not fit to make himself his 
pattern. The true rule is, that description that is in the word, of a waking 
and Uving Christian. What should a man be, take him at the best, the 
varying from that is a sleepy estate. As, for instance, a Christian should 
walk ' in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,' Acts ix. 31, live and walk by 
faith ; he should depend upon God, and resist temptations. Faith should 
work by love, and love to ourselves should move us to honour ourselves as 
members of Christ, to disdain to defile ourselves by sin. Our hope, if it 
be waking, will purge us, and make us suitable to the condition we hope 
for in heaven, and the company we hope to have fellowship with there. 

3. Again, look to the examples of others that are more gracious. I have as 
many encouragements to be thankful to God, and fruitful. They enjoy no 
more means than I ; and yet they abound in assurance, are comfortable in 
all conditions. I am down in a little trouble, subject to passion, to barren- 
ness, and distrust, as if there were no promises of God made to sowing in 
righteousness. Thus a man may discern he is asleep, by comparing him- 
self with others that are better than himself. 

4. Again, it is e\ddent that we are growing on to a sleepy condition by 
this, when we find a haclnvardness to spiritual duties, as to prayer, thanks- 
giving, and spiritual conference. It should be the joy of a Christian, as it 
is his prerogative, to come into the presence of Christ, and to be enabled to 
do that, that is above himself. When what is spiritual in a duty will not 
down with us, it is a sign oui' souls are in a sleepy temper. There is not 
a proportion between the soul and the business in heavenly duties. Whom 
do we speak to but God ? whom do we hear speak in the word but God ? 
what should be the temper of those that speak to God, and hear him speak 
to them ? It should be regardful, reverent, observant. Those that are 
watchful to the eye of a prince, what observance they shew, when they are 
to receive anything fi:om him or to put up any request to him. ' Ofi'er this 
to thy king,' saith the Lord by Malachi, Mai i. 8. When a man comes 
drowsily to God, to sacrifice, to hear, to pray, &c., offer this carriage to 
man ; will he take it at thy hands? Oh the mercy of our patient God, that 
will endure such services as we most frequently perform ! By this indis- 
posedness to duty more or less, may we discover our sleepiness. 

5. When the soul begins to admire outward excellencies ; when it awakes 
much to profits, pleasures, and honours ; when men admire great men, rich 
men, gi-eat places. The strength and fat of the soul are consumed by 
feeding on these things ; so that when it comes to spiritual things it must 
needs be faint and drowsy. By these and the like signs, let us labour to 
search the state of our souls. 

Motives agahist sleepiness. 1. And to stir us up the more, consider the 
danger of a secure, sleepg estate. There is no sin but a man is exposed unto 
in a secure estate. Therefore the devil labours all he can to cast men into 
this temper ; which he must do before he can make him fall into any gross 
sin. When he is asleep, he is in a fit frame for any iU action ; he is in a 
temper fit for the devil to work upon ; to bring into any dream or error ; to 
inflame the fancies and conceits with outward excellencies. The devil hath 
a faculty this way, to make outward things great that are nothing worth, 
and to make such sins little as, if we were awake, would affright us. He 
works strongest upon the fancy, when the soul is sleepy or a little drowsy. 

There is no man that comes to gross sin suddenly. But he falls by little 

Cant. V. 1.] ' i sleep.' 45 

and little ; first to slumber, and from slumber to sleep, and from sleep to 
security ; and so from one degree to another. It is the inlet to all sins, 
and the beginning of all danger. Therefore the Lord takes a contrary- 
course with his. When he would preserve a state or person, he plants in 
them fii'st a spirit of faith, to beUeve that there is such a danger, or such a 
good to be apprehended, upon watching and going on in a course befitting 
that condition ; and then faith, if it be a matter of threatening, stirs up 
fear, which waketh up care and diligence. This is God's method, when he 
intends the preservation of any. 

2. A man in his sleep is fit to lose all. A sleepy hand lets anything go 
with ease. A man hath grace and comfort ; he lets it go in his spiritual 
sleepiness, — grace in a great measure, and the sense and comfort of it alto- 
gether. A Christian hath always the divine natui'e in him, that works in 
some degi'ee ; yet notwithstanding in regard of his present temper and feel- 
ing, he may be in such a case, that he shall differ nothing from a reprobate, 
nay, he may come to feel more than any ordinary wicked man feels w^hiles 
he lives in the world, as divers good Chi-istians do. And all this, through their 
carelessness, — that they sufter themselves to be robbed of first beginnings, 
by yielding to dehghts, company, and contentments. Feeding their con- 
ceits with carnal excellencies, so favouring corruptions, and flattering that 
that is naught in them, they lose the comfort of all that is good. Who 
would do this for the gaining of a little broken sleep; I say broken sleep, for 
the better a man is, the more un quietly shall he sleep in such a state. He 
shall feel startlings and frights in the midst of his carnal dehghts if he be- 
long to God. 

3. Besides, God meets them u-ith some crosses in this world, that they shall 
gain nothing by it. There is none of God's children that ever gained by 
yielding to any con-uption, or drowsiness, though God saved their souls. 
It is always true, a secure state is a sure forerunner of some great cross, or 
of some gi'eat sin. God cannot endm-e such a temper of soul ; lifeless 
and unfeeling performances and sacrifices, to him that hath given us such 
encouragements. It must needs be distasteful to God, when we go drowsily 
and heavily about his work. ' Cursed is he that doth the work of the Lord 
Degligently,' Jer. xlviii. 10. If it were to sheath his sword in the bowels of 
his enemy, to which man is exceedingly prone, yet if it be not done with 
diligence and an eye to God, a man is cursed in it, 

4. And it is an odious tonper to God. For doth not he deserve cheerful 
sennce at our hands ? hath he been a ' wilderness' to us ? doth he not deserve 
the marrow of our souls ? doth not his greatness require it at our hands, 
that our senses be all waking ? and doth not his mercy deserve, that our 
love should take all care, to serve him that is so gracious and good to us ? 
Is it not the fruit of our redemption to serve him without fear, in hohness 
and righteousness all the days of our lives ? Luke i. 14. 

5. It is a state not only odious to God, but irksome to our own spirits. The 
conscience is never fully at peace in a drowsy state or in drowsy perf bnnances. 

Likewise it is not gi'aceful to others. It breeds not love in them to good 
things, but dislike. Carnal men, let them see a Christian not carrj' him- 
seK waking, as he should, though they be a thousand times worse them- 
selves, yet notwithstanding they think it should not be so. Such a course 
doth not suit with so much knowledge and so much grace. 

Let a man consider, wherefore God hath given the powers of the soul 
and the graces of the Spirit. Arc they not given for exercise, and to bo 
employed about their proper objects ? A man is not a man, a Christian is 


not a Christian, when he is not waking. He so far degenerates from him- 
self, as he jdelds unto any unbeseeming carriage. Wherefore hath God 
given us understanding, but to conceive the best things ? Wherefore have 
we judgment, but to judge aright between the things of heaven and 
earth ? Wherefore have we love planted in us, but to set it on lovely 
objects ? Wherefore faith, but to trust God over aU ? "Wherefore hatred, 
but to fly iir? Wherefore have we affections, but for spiritual things ? 
When therefore our affections are dull, and lose their edge to these 
things, being quick only to earthly things, what a temper is this ! How 
doth a man answer his creation, the state of a new creature! Where- 
fore are all graces planted in the soul, as faith and love, and hope and 
patience, but to be in exercise, and waking ? To have these, and to let 
them sleep and lie unexercised, so far a Christian forgets himself, and is 
not himself. A Christian as a Christian, that is, in his right temper, should 
be in the act and exercise of what is good in him, upon all occasions ; as 
we say of God, he is a pure act, because he is always in working. The 
Spirit of God is a pm'e act, in whom is no suffering but all action, about 
that that is fit for so glorious a nature. So it is with the spirit of a man, 
that hath the Spirit of God. He is in act, in exercise, in operation, as the 
Spirit is more or less in him. So he is more or less in operation, more or 
less fruitful. What a world of good might Christians do, if they were in a 
right temper ! What a deal of ill might they escape and avoid that they lie 
in, if they would rouse up their souls to be as Christians should be, and as 
their soul and conscience tells them they ought and might be, did they 
rightly impro-s'c the means they have ! 


I sleep, hut my heart wakes, &c. — Cant. V. 2. 

The words, as it hath been shewed, contain a confession, * I sleep,' and 
a correction, ' my heart waketh.' The confession hath been handled, now 
something of the correction or exception. 

' My heai't waketh.' The word heart, you know, includes the whole soul, 
for the understanding is the heart, ' an understanding heart,' Job xxxviii. 36. 
To ' lay things up in om- hearts,' Luke ii. 51, there it is memory-; and to 
cleave in heart is to cleave in will. Acts xi. 23. To ' rejoice in heart,' Isa. 
XXX. 29, that is in the affection. So that all the powers of the soul, the 
inward man, as Paul calleth it, 2 Cor. iv. 16, is the heart. 

' I sleep, but vaj heart waketh.' Indeed the church might have said, 
My heart sleepeth, but my heart waketh. For it is the same faculty, the 
same power of the soul, both in the state of corruption, and of grace, in 
which the soul is ; as in the twilight we cannot say, this is hght and that is 
darkness, because there is such a mixture. In all the powers of the soul 
there is something good and something ill, something flesh and something 
spirit. The heart was asleep, and likewise was awake. ' I sleep, but my 
heart waketh.' 

Ohs. 1. You see here, then, first of all, in this correction, that a Christian 
hath two jmnciples in him, that which is good, and that which is evil, whence 
issueth the weakness of his actions and affections. They are all mixed, as 
are the principles from which they come forth. 


Ohs, 2. We may observe, furtlier, that a Christian man may knoiv how it is 
tvith himself. Though he be mixed of flesh and spirit, he hath a distinguish- 
ing knowledge and judgment whereby he knows both the good and evil in 
himself. In a dungeon where is nothing but darlmess, both on the eye 
that should see and on that which should be seen, he can see nothing ; but 
where there is a supernatural principle, where there is this mixture, there 
the light of the Spirit searcheth the dark corners of the heart. A man that 
hath the Spirit knoweth both; he knoweth himself and his own heart. 
The Spirit hath a light of its own, even as reason hath. How doth reason 
know what it doth ? By a reflect act inbred in the soul. Shall a man 
that is natural reflect upon his state, and know what he knows, what he 
thinks, what he doth, and may not the soul that is raised to an higher 
estate know as much ? Undoubtedly it may. Besides, we have the Spirit 
of God, which is light, and self-evidencing. It shews unto us where it is, 
and what it is. The work of the Spirit may sometimes be hindered, as in 
times of temptation. Then I confess a man may look wholly upon corrup- 
tion, and so mistake himself in judging by that which he sees present in 
himself, and not by the other principle which is concealed for a time from 
him. But a Christian, when he is not in such a temptation, he knows his 
owTi estate, and can distinguish between the principles in him of the flesh 
and spirit, grace and nature. 

Again, we see here in that the church saith, ' but my heart waketh,' that 
she doth acknowledge there is good as well as evil. As the church is in- 
genious* to confess that which is amiss, ' I sleep,' so she is as true in con- 
fessing that which is good in herself, ' but my hcai-t waketh,' which j-ields 
lis another obsei*vation. 

Obs. 3. We should as u-ell aclnwuiedge that which is good as that tvhich is 
evil in our hearts. 

Because we must not bear false witness, as not against others, much less 
against ourselves. Many help Satan, the accuser, and plead his cause 
against the Spirit, their comforter, in refusing to see what God seeth in 
them. We must make conscience of this, to know the good as well as the 
evil, though it be never so Httle. 

To come in particular, what is that good the church here confesseth, 
when she saith that ' her heart waketh ? ' 

(1.) She in her sleepy estate, Jirst, hath her judgment sound in that ichich 
is truth, of persons, things, and courses. Christians are not so benighted 
when they sleep, or given up to such a reprobate judgment, as that they dis- 
cern not difi'erences. They can discern that such are in a good way, and such 
are not ; that such means are good, and such are not. A Christian oft- 
times is forced to do work out of judgment, in case his afl"ections are asleep 
or distracted ; and such works are approved of God, as they come from a 
right judgment and conviction, though the evil of them be chastised, 

(2.) But all is not in the judgment. The child of God asleep hath a 
u-orking in the uill. Choosing the better part, which he will cleave to, he 
hath a' general purpose ' to please God in all things,' and no settled pur- 
pose in particular for to sleep. Thus answerable to his judgment, there- 
fore, he chooseth the better part and side ; he owns God and his cause, 
even in evil times, cleaving in resolution of heart to the best ways, though 
with weakness. 

Take David in his sleepy time between his repentance and his foul sin. 
If one should have asked him what he thought of the ways of God and of 
* That is, ' ingenuous.' — G. 


the contrary, lie would have given you an answer out of sound judgment 
thus and thus. If you should have asked him what course he would have 
followed in his choice, resolution, and purpose, he would have answered 

(3.) Again, there remaineth affection answerable to their judgment, which, 
though they find, and feel it not for a time, it being perhaps scattered, yet 
there is a secret love to Christ, and to his cause and side, joined with joy 
in the welfare of the church and people of God ; rejoicing in the prosperity 
of the righteous, with a secret gi'ief for the contrary. The pulses will beat 
this way, and good affections will discover themselves. Take him in his 
sleepy estate, the judgment is sound in the main, the will, the afiections, 
the joy, the dehght, the sorrow. This is an e\idence his heart is awake. 

(4.) The conscience likenise is awake. The heart is taken ofttimes for the 
conscience in Scripture. A good conscience, called a mcn-y heart, is ' a 
continual feast,' Prov. xv. 15. Now, the conscience of God's children is never 
so sleepy but it awaketh in some comfortable measure. Though perhaps it 
may be deaded* in a particular act, yet notwithstanding there is so much life 
in it, as upon speech or conference, &c., there will be an opening of it, and a 
yielding at the length to the strength of spiritual reason. His conscience is 
not seared. David was but a little roused by Nathan, yet you see how he 
presently confessed ingeniously f that he had sinned, 2 Sam. xii. 13. So, 
when he had numbered the people, his conscience presently smote him, 
2 Sam. xxiv. 10 ; and when he resolved to kill Nabal and all his family, 
which was a wicked and carnal passion, in which there was nothing but 
flesh ; yet when he was stopped by the advice and discreet counsel of Abi- 
gail, we see how presently he yielded, 1 Sam. xxv. 32, seq. There is a 
kind of pei-petual tenderness of conscience in God's people. All the dif- 
ference is of more or less. 

(5.) And answerable to these inward powers is the outward obedience of 
God's children. In their sleepy estate they go on in a course of obedience. 
Though deadly and coldly, and not with that glory that may give others 
good example or yield themselves comfort, yet there is a course of good 
duties. His ordinary way is good, howsoever he may step aside. His fits 
may be sleepy when his estate is waking. We must distinguish between 
a state and a fit. A man may have an aguish fit in a sound body. The 
state of a Christian is a waking state in the inward man. The bye-courses 
he falleth into are but fits, out of which he recovers himself. 

Use 1. "WTience, for use, let us magnify the goodness of God, that will 
remain by his Spirit, and let it stay to preserve life in such hearts as ours 
are, so prone to security and sleepiness. Let it put us in mind of other 
like merciful and gracious doings of our God for us, that he gave his Spirit to 
us when we had nothing good in us, when it met with nothing but enmity, 
rebellion, and indisposeduess. Nay, consider how he debased himself and 
became man, in being united to our frail flesh, after an admirable | near- 
ness, and all out of mercy to save us. 

Use 2. If so be that Satan shall tempt us in such occasions, let us enter 
into our own souls, and search the truth of grace, our judgment, our wills, 
our constant course of obedience, and the inward principle whence it comes, 
that we may be able to stand in the time of temptation. "What upheld the 
church but this reflect act, by the help of the Spirit, that she was able to 
judge of the good as well as of the ill ? Thus David, ' The desires of our 
souls are towards thee,' Ps. xxx\'iii. 9 ; and though all this have befallen us, 
* That is, 'deadened.' — G. f That is, 'ingenuously.' — G. {That is, 'wonderfuL'— G. 

Cant. V. 2.] ' i sleep, but my heaet waketh.' 49 

yet have we not forgotten thy name, Ps. xliv. 20. This will enable us to 
appeal to God, as Peter, ' Lord, thou knowcst I love thee,' John xxi. 15. 
It is an evidence of a good estate. 

Obs. 1. ' My heart wakcth.' God's children never totalhj fall from grace. 
Though they sleep, yet their heart is awake. The prophet Isaiah, spcakin" 
of the church and children of God, Isa. vi. 13, saith, ' It shall be as a tree, 
as an oak whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves.' Though 
you see neither fruit nor leaves, yet there is life in the root, ' the seed remains 
in them.' There is alway a seed remaining. It is an immortal seed that 
we are begotten by. Peter, when he denied his Master, was like an oak 
that was weather-beaten ; yet there was life still in the root, 1 Pet. i. 3, 
Mat. xxvi, 32, seq. For, questionless, Peter loved Christ from his heart. 
Sometimes a Christian may be in such a poor case, as the spiritual life 
runneth all to the heart, and the outward man is left destitute; as in wars, 
when the enemy hath conquered the field, the people run into the city, and 
if they be beaten out of the city, they run into the castle. The grace of 
God sometimes fails in the outward action, in the field, when yet it retireth 
to the heart, in which fort it is impregnable. * My heart waketh.' 

When the outward man sleeps, and there are weak, dull performances, 
and perhaps actions amiss, too, yet notwithstanding ' the heart waketh.' 
As we see in a swoon or great scars, the blood, spirits, and life, though 
they leave the face and hands, &c., yet they are in the heart. It is said in 
the Scriptm-e of Eutychus, ' His life is in him still,' though he seemed to be 
dead, Acts xx. 9. As Christ said of Lazarus, John xi. 4, so a man may 
say of a Christian in his worst state. His life is in him still ; he is not dead, 
but sleeps ; ' his heart waketh.' 

Obs. 2. This is a sound doctrine and comfortable, agreeable to Scripture 
and the experience of God's j^eople. We must not lose it, therefore, but 
make use of it against the time of temptation. There are some pulses that dis- 
cover life in the sickest man, so are there some breathings and spiritual motions 
of heart that will comfort in such times. These two never f\iil on God's 
part, his love, which is unchangeable, and his grace, a fruit of his love ; 
and two on our part, the impression of that love, and the gracious work of 
the new creature. ' Christ neyer dies,' saith the apostle, Heb. vii. 25. As 
he never dies in himself, after liis resurrection, so he never dies in his chil- 
dren. There is always spiritual life. 

Use for comfort. ' The heart waketh.' This is a secret of God's sanctuaiy, 
only belonging to God's people. Others have nothing to do with it. They 
shall ever love God, and God will ever love them. The apostle, 1 Cor. 
xiii, 8, saith, ' Love never fiiils.' Gifts, you know, shall be abolished, be- 
cause the manner of knowing we now use shall cease. ' We see through a 
glass,' &c., ' but love abideth,' 1 Cor. xiii. 12. Doth our love to God 
abide for ever, and doth not his love to us, whence it cometh ? Om-s is but 
a reflection of God's love. Let lis comfort ourselves, therefore, in this for 
the time to come, that in all the uncertainty of things in this life we have 
to-day and lose to-morrow, as we see in Job, there is somewhat a saint 
may build on that is constant and unmoveable. * I am the Lord, I change 
not ; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed,' Mai. iii. G. God 
should deny himself, as it were, which he cannot do, and his own constant 
nature, if he should vary this way. 

Obs. 3. A Christian is xvhat his heart and imvard man is. It is a true 
speech of di^'ines, God and nature begin there. Art begins with the face 
and outward lineaments, as hypocrisy, outward painting and expressions ; 



but grace at the centre, and from thence goes to the circumference. And 
therefore the church values herself here by the disposition and temper of her 
heart. Thus I am for my outward carriage, &c. * I sleep, but my heart, 
that waketh.' 

Therefore, let us enter into our consciences and souls, for the trial of our 
estates, how it is with our judgments. Do we allow of the ways of God 
and of the law of the inward man ? How is it with our affections and bent 
to good things ? how with our hatred, our zeal ? Is it not more for outward 
things than for inward ? We know what Jehu said to Jonadab, when he 
would have him into his chariot, ' Is thine heart as mine ? Then come to 
me,' 2 Kings x. 15. So saith Christ, Is thine heart as mine? then give 
me thy hand. But first God must have our hearts, and then our hands. 
A man otherwise is but a ghost in religion, which goes up and down, with- 
out a spu'it of its own ; but a picture that hath an outside, and is nothing 
within. Therefore, especially, let us look to our hearts. * Oh, that there 
were such an heart in this people,' saith God to Moses, ' to fear me always, 
for their good,' Deut. v. ^9. This is it that God's children desire, that 
their hearts may be aright set. ' Wash thy heart, Jerusalem,' saith the 
prophet, ' from thy wickedness,' &c., Jer. iv. 14. Indeed, all the outward 
man depends upon this. Therefore, Satan, if he can get this fort, he is 
safe, and so Satan's vicar, Prov. iv. 23. It was a watchword that was in 
Gregory XIII. his time, in l^ueen Elizabeth's days, ' My son, give me thy 
heart. Dissemble, go to church, and do what you will ; but, da viihl cor, 
be in heart a papist, and go where you will' (e). God is not content with 
the heart alone. The devil knows if he have the heart he hath all ; but 
God, as he made all, both soul and body, he will have all. But yet in 
times of temptation the chief trial is in the heart. 

And fi-om hence we may have a main difference between one Christian 
and another. A sound Christian doth what he doth from the heart ; he 
begins the work there. What good he doth he loves in his heart first, 
judgeth it to be good, and then he doeth it. 

An hypocrite doth what he doth outwardly, and allows not inwardly of 
that good he doth. He would do ill, and not good, if it were in his choice. 
The good that he doth is for by-ends, for correspondence, or dependence 
upon others, or conformity with the times, to cover his designs under for- 
mality of religion, that he may not be known outwardly, as he is inwardly, 
an atheist and an hypocrite. So he hath false aims ; his heart is not 
directed to a right mark. But it is otherwise with God's child. Whatso- 
ever good he doth, it is in his heart first ; whatsoever ill he abstains from, 
he doth it fi-om his heart, judging it to be naught ; therefore he hates it, 
and will not do it. Here is a main difference of the church from all others. 
It wakes in the heart, though the outward man sleeps. But other men's 
hearts sleep when they wake, as you know some men wiU walk and do 
many things in their sleep. An hypocrite is such a kind of man. He 
walks and goes up and down, but his heart is asleep. He knows not what 
he doth, nor doth he the thing out of judgment or love, but as one asleep, 
as it were. He hath no inward affection unto the things he doth. A 
Christian is the contrary ; his heart is awake when he is asleep. 

Another difference from the words you may have thus. A Christian, by 
the power of God's Spirit in him, is sensible of the contrarieties in him, 
complains, and is ashamed for the same. But an hypocrite is not so ; he 
is not sensible of his sleepiness. ' I sleep,' saith the church. So much 
as the church saith she slept, so much she did not sleep ; for a man that 

Cant. V. 2.] ' my heakt waketh.' 51 

is asleep cannot say lie is asleep, nor a dead man that he is dead. So far 
as he saith he is asleep, he is awake. Now, the church confesseth that 
she was asleep by that part that was awake in her. Other men do not 
complain, are not sensible of their sleepiness and slumberinff, but compose 
themselves to slumber, and seek darkness, which is a friend of sleep. 
They would willingly be ignorant, to keep their conscience dull and 
dumb as much as they can, that it may not upbraid them. This is 
the disposition of a carnal man ; he is not sensible of his estate as here the 
church is. 

Obs. 4. A waking state is a blessed state. The chui'ch you sec supports 
and comforts herself that she was waking in her inward man, that she was 
happy in that respect. 

Quest. How shall we do to keep and preserve our souls in this waking 
condition, especially in these drowsy times ? 

Ans. 1. Propound unto them waldnrf considerations. What causeth our 
sleeps but want of matters of more serious observation ? None will sleep 
when a thing is presented of excellency more than ordinary. To see, and 
know, and think of what a state we are now advanced unto in Christ ; what 
we shall be ere long, yet the fearful estate we should be in, if God leave us 
to ourselves ! a state of astonishment, miserable and wretched, beyond 
speech, nay, beyond conceit !* Thus did the blessed souls in former times 
exercise their thoughts, raise, and stir them up by meditation, that so they 
might hold their souls in a high esteem of the best things, and not suffer 
them to sleep. We never fall to sleep in earthly and carnal delights, till 
the soul let its hold go of the best things, and ceaseth to think of, and to 
wonder at them. What made Moses to fall from the delights of Egypt ? 
He saw the basest things in religion were greater than the greatest things 
in the coui't, yea, in the world. ' He esteemed the reproach of Christ 
better than the greatest treasures of Egypt,' Heb. xi. 26. 

2. Make the heart think of the shortness and vanity of this life, with the 
uncertainty of the time of om* death ; and of what woudi'ous consequent-)- it 
is to be in the state of gi'ace before we die. The uncertainty of the gales of 
grace, that there may be a good hour which, if we pass, we may never have 
the like again, Luke xix. 42, Mat. xxiii. 37 ; as the angel descended at a 
certain hour into the pool of Bethesda, John v. 4, when those that entered 
not immediately after, went away sick as they came. So there are certain 
good hours which let us not neglect. This will help to keep us waking. 

3. The necessity of grace, and then the fi-ee dispensing of it in God's good 
time, and withal the terror of the Lord's-day, * Remembering,' saith St 
Paul, ' the terror of the Lord, I labour to stir up all men,' &c., 2 Cor. v. 11. 
Indeed it should make us stir up our hearts when we consider the teiTor of 
the Lord ; to think that ere long we shall be all drawn to an exact account, 
before a strict, precise judge. And shall our eyes then be sleeping and 
careless ? These and such like considerations out of spiritual wisdom wo 
should propound to ourselves, that so we might have waking souls, and pre- 
serve them in a right temper. 

Ans. 2. To keep faith uakiny. The soul is as the object is that is pre- 
sented to it, and as the certainty of the apprehension is of that object. It 
conduceth much therefore to the awakening of the soul to keep faith awake. 
It is not the greatness alone, but the presence of great things that stirs us. 
Now it is the natm-e of faith to make things powerfully present to the soul ; 
for it sets things before us in the word of Jehovah, that made all things of 
* That is ' conception.' — G. t That is, ' conseqiience.' — G. 


nothing, and is Lord of his word, to give a being to -whatsoever he hath 
spoken, Heb. si. 1. Faith is an awakening grace. Keep that awake, and 
it will keep all other graces waking. 

"When a man believes, that all these things shall be on fire ere long ; that 
heaven and earth shall fall in pieces ; that we shall be called to give an 
account, [and that] before that time we may be taken away — is it not a 
wonder we stand so long, when cities, stone walls fall, and Idngdoms come 
to sudden periods ? When faith apprehends, and sets this to the eye of the 
soul, it affects the same marvellously. Therefore let faith set before the 
soul some present thoughts according to its temper. Sometimes terrible 
things to avvaken it out of its dulness ; sometimes glorious things, promises 
and mercies, to waken it out of its sadness, &c. When we are in a pros- 
perous estate let faith make present all the sins and temptations that usually 
accompany such an estate, as pride, security, self-applause, and the like. 
If in adversity, think also of what sins may beset us there. This will awaken 
up such graces in us, as are suitable to such an estate, for the preventing 
of such sins and temptations, and so keep our hearts in ' exercise to godli- 
ness,' 1 Tim. iv. 7 ; than which, nothing will more prevent sleeping. 

Ans. 3. And withal, labour for abundance of the Spirit of God. For what 
makes men sleepy, and drowsy? The want of spirits. We are dull, and 
overloaden with gi'oss humours, whereby the strength sinks and fails. 
Christians should know, that there is a necessity, if they will keep them- 
selves waking, to keep themselves spiritual. Pray for the Spirit above all 
things. It is the Ufe of our life, the soul of our soul. What is the body 
without the soul, or the soul without the Spirit of God? Even a dead lump. 
And let us keep ourselves in such good ways, as we may expect the presence 
of the Spirit to be about us, which will keep us awake, 

Ans. 4. We must keep ourselves in as much light as may be. For all 
sleepiness comes with darkness. Let us keep our souls in a perpetual 
light. When any doubt or dark thought ariseth, upon yielding thereunto 
comes a sleepy temper. Sleepiness in the affections ariseth from darkness 
of judgment. The more we labour to increase our knowledge, and the more 
the spiritual light and beams of it shine in at our windows, the better it will 
be for us, and the more shall we be able to keep awake. What makes men 
in their corruptions to avoid the ministry of the word, or anything that may 
awake their consciences ? It is the desire they have to sleep. They know, 
the more they know, the more they must practise, or else they must have a 
galled conscience. They see religion will not stand with then- ends. Rich 
they must be, and gi-eat they will be ; but if they suffer the Hght to grow 
upon them, that will tell them they must not rise, and be gi-eat, by these 
and such courses. A gracious heart will be desirous of spiritual knowledge 
especially, and not care how near the word comes ; because they in- 
geniously''^" and freely desire to be spiritually better. They make all things 
in the world yield to the inward man. They desire to know their own 
corruptions and evils more and more. And therefore love the light ' as 
children of the light, and of the day,' 1 Thess. v. 5. Sleep is a work of 
darkness. Men therefore of dark and drowsy hearts desire darkness, for 
that very end that their consciences may sleep. 

Ans. 5. Labour to p)^'escrve the soul in the fear of God; because fear is a 

waking affection, yea, one of the wakefullest. For, naturally we are more 

moved with dangers, than stirred with hopes. Therefore, that affection, 

that is most conversant about danger, is the most rousing and waking 

* That is, ' iugenuously. — G. 

Cant. V. 2.] * my heakt wakkth.' 63 

affection. Preserve therefore the fear of God by all means. It is one 
character of a Christian, who, when he hath lost almost all grace, to his 
feeling, yet the fear of God is always left with him. lie fears sin, and the 
reward of it, and therefore God makes that awe the bond of the new covenant. 
* I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall never depart from me,' 
Jer. xxjdi. 39. One Christian is better than another, by how much more 
he wakes, and fears more than another. Of all Christians, mark those are 
most gracious, spiritual, and heavenly, that are the most awful and careful 
of their speeches, courses, and demeanours ; tender even of offending God 
in little things. You shall not have light and common oaths come from 
them, nor unsavoury speeches. Sometimes a good Christian may in a 
state of sleepiness be faulty some way. But he grows in the knowledge of 
the greatness of God, and the experience of his own infirmities, as he grows 
in the sense of the love of God. He is afraid to lose that sweet communion 
any way, or to grieve the Spirit of God. Therefore, always as a man grows 
in grace, he grows in awfulness, and in jealousy of his own corruptions. 
Therefore let us preserve by all means this awful affection, the fear of God. 
Let us then often search the state of our own souls ; our going backward or 
forward ; how it is between God and our souls ; how fit we are to die, and 
to sufl'er ; how lit for the times that may befall us. Let us examine the 
state of our own souls, which will preserve us in a waking estate ; especially 
examine ourselves in regard of the sins of the place, and the times where we 
live ; of the sins of our own inclination, how we stand affected and biassed 
in all those respects, and see how jealous we are of dangers in this kind. 
Those that wiU keep waking souls, must consider the danger of the place 
where they Hve, and the times ; what sins reign, what sins such a company 
as they converse with, are subject unto, and theii* own weakness to be led 
away with such temptations. This jealousy is a branch of that fear that 
we spake of before, arising from the searching of our own hearts, and dis- 
positions. It is a notable means to keep us awake, when we keep our hearts 
in fear of such sins as either by calling, custom, company, or the time we 
live in, or by our own disposition, we are most prone to. 

There is no Christian, but he hath some special sin, to which he is more 
prone than to another, one way or other, either by course of life, or com- 
plexion. Here now is the care and watchfulness of a Christian spirit, that 
knowing by examination, and trial of his own heart, his weakness, he doth 
especially fence against that, which he is most inclined to ; and is able to 
speak most against that sin of all othei's, and to bring the strongest argu- 
ments to dishearten others from practice of it. 

Ans. 6. In the last place it is a thing of no small consequence, that ice 
keep company with ivakiiu/ and faithful Christians, such as neither sleep 
themselves or do willingly suffer any to sleep that are near them. 

It is a report, and a true one, of the sweating sickness, that they that 
were kept awake by those that were with them, escaped ; but the sickness 
was deadly if they were suffered to sleep. It is one of the best fruits of the 
communion of saints, and of our spiritual good acquaintance, to keep one 
another awake. It is an unpleasing work on both sides. But we shall one 
day cry out against all them that have pleased themselves and us, in rock- 
ing us asleep, and thank those that have pulled us ' with fear,' Jude 23, out 
of the fire, though against our wills. 

Let us laboui' upon our own hearts in the conscionable* use of all these 
means, in their several times and seasons, that we may keep our hearts 
*" Tliat is, ' conscientious.' — G. 


■waking ; and tlie more earnest ought we to be, from consideration of the 
present age and season in which we live. 

Certainly a drowsy temper is the most ordinary temper in the world. 
For would men suffer idle words, yea, filthy and rotten talk to come from 
their mouths if they were awake ? Would a waking man nan into a pit ? 
or upon a sword's point ? A man that is asleep may do anything. Wliat 
do men mean when they fear not to lie, dissemble, and rush upon the pikes 
of God's displeasure ? When they say one thing and do another, are they 
not dead ? or take them at the best, are they not asleep ? Were they 
awake, would they ever do thus ? Will not a fowl that hath wings, avoid 
the snare ? or will a beast run into a pit when it sees it ? There is a snare 
laid in your playhouses, gaming houses, common houses, that gentlemen 
frequent that generally profess religion, and take the communion. If the 
eye of their souls were awake, would they run into these snares, that theu" 
own conscience tells them are so? If there be any goodness in their souls, 
it is wondrous sleepy. There is no man, even the best, but may complain 
something, that they are overtaken in the contagion of these infectious 
times. They catch drowsy tempers, as our Saviour saith, of those latter 
times. ' For the abundance of iniquity, the love of many shall wax cold,' 
Mat. xxiv. 12. A chill temper grows ever from the coldness of the times 
that we live in, wherein the best may complain of coldness ; but there is 
a great difference. The life of many, we see, is a continual sleep. 

Let us especially watch over om-selves, in the use of liberty and such 
things as are in themselves lawful. It is a blessed state, when a Christian 
carries himself so ia his liberty, that his heart condemns him not for the 
abuse of that which it alloweth, and justly in a moderate use. Recreations 
are lawful ; who denies it ? To refresh a man's self, is not only lawful, but 
necessary. God knew it well enough, therefore hath allotted time for 
sleep, and the like. But we must not turn recreation into a caUing, to spend 
too much time in it. 

Where there is least fear, there is most danger always. Now because in 
lawful things there is least fear, we are there ia most danger. It is true 
for the most part. Ileitis perimus omnes, more men perish in the church of 
God by the abuse of lawful things, than by unlawful ; more by meat, than 
by poison. Because every man takes heed of poison, being* he knows the 
venom of it, but how many men surfeit, and die by meat ! So, many men 
die by lawful things. They eternally perish in the abuse of their liberties, 
more than in gross sins. Therefore let us keep awake, that we may carry 
ourselves so in our liberties, that we condemn not ourselves in the use of 
them. We will conclude this point with the meditation of the excellency of 
a waking Christian. When he is in his right temper, he is an excellent 
person, fit for all essays. f He is then impregnable. Satan hath nothing 
to do with him, for he, as it is said, is then a wise man, and ' hath his eyes 
in his head,' Eccles. iii. 4. He knows himself, his state, his enemies, and 
adversaries, the snares of prosperity and adversity, and of all conditions, 
&c. Therefore, he being awake, is not overcome of the evil of any condi- 
tion, and is ready for the good of any estate. He that hath a waking soul, 
he sees all the advantages of good, and all the snares that might draw him 
to ill, Mark xiii. 37. What a blessed estate is this ! In all things therefore 
watch ; in all estates, in all times, and ia all actions. There is a danger 
in everything without watchfulness. There is a scorpion under every stone, 

* Tlmt is, ' seeing it is.' — G. 

t That is, ' attempts.' Sibbes's spelling is ' assaies,' — Qu.' assaults?' — G. • 

Cant. V. 2.] ' it is the voice of my beloved.' 66 

as the proverb is, a snare under eveiy blessing of God, and in every condi- 
tion, ■which Satan useth as a weapon to hurt us ; adversity to discourage 
us, prosperity to puff us up : when, if a Christian hath not a waking 
soul, Satan hath him in his snare, in prosperity to be proud and secure ; 
in adversity to murmur, repine, be dejected, and call God's providence into 
question. When a Christian hath a heart and grace to awake, then his 
love, his patience, his faith is awake, as it should be. He is fit for all con- 
ditions, to do good in them, and to take good by them. 

Let us therefore labour to preserve watchful and waking hearts continu- 
ally, that so w^e may be fit to live, to die, and to appear before the judgment 
seat of God ; to do what w^e should do, and suffer what we should suffer, 
being squared for all estates whatsoever. 


It is the voice of my Beloved that hnocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my 
love, my dove, my undejiled; for my head is filled ivith dew, and my 
locks with the drops of the night. — Cant. V. 2. 

Hitheeto, by God's assistance, we have heard largely both of the church's 
sleeping and heart-waking ; what this sleeping and heart-waking is ; how it 
comes ; the trials of these opposite dispositions ; of the danger of sleeping, 
and excellency of heart-waking ; and of the helps and means, both to ahun 
the one and preserve the other. Now, the church, having so freely and in- 
geniously* confessed what she could against herself, proceeds yet further to 
acquaint us with the particulars in her heart-waking disposition, which were 
twofold. She heard and discerned ' the voice of her Beloved,' who, for all 
her sleep, was her B-eloved still ; and more than that, she remembers all 
his sweet words and allurements, whereby he pressed her to open unto him, 
saying, * Open to me, my love, my dove, my undefiled ; ' which is set out 
and amplified with a further moving argument of those inconveniences 
Christ had suffered in his waiting for entertainment in her heart, ' For my 
head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night,' all which 
aggravates her offence ; and his rare goodness and patience towards miser- 
able sinners, so to wait from time to time for admission into our wretched 
souls, that he may rule and govern them by his Holy Spirit. Therefore, 
we had great reason to shun this sleepy distemper of soul, which for the 
present so locks up ' the everlasting gates of our soul, that the King of 
glory cannot enter in,' Ps. xxiv. 7, and to strive for this blessed heart-waking 
disposition, which may help us at all times to see our dangers, and, by God's 
blessing, recover us out of them, as here the church doth at length, though 
first smarting and well beaten by the watchmen, in a world of perplexities ere 
she can recover the sense of her former union and communion with Christ. 

And surely we find by experience what a woful thing it is for the soul 
which hath once tasted how gracious the Lord is, to be long without a sense 
of God's love ; for when it looks upon sin as the cause of this separation, 
this is for the time as so many deaths unto it. Therefore, the church's 
experience must be our warning-piece to take heed how we grieve the Spirit, 
and so fall into this spiritual sleep. Wlaerein yet this is a good sign, that 
yet we are not in a desperate dead sleep when we can with her say, 

' It is the voipe of my Beloved that knocks, saying. Open unto me,' &c. 
* That is, ' ingenuously.' — G. 


In which words you have, 

1. The church's acknowledgment of Christ's voice. 

2. Of his carriage towards her. 

1. Her acknowledgment is set down here, ' It is the voice of my Beloved.' 

2. His carriage, ' He knocks,' &c. Wherein, 

(1.) His patience in suffering things unworthy and utterly unbeseeming 
for him. He doth not only ' knock,' but he continues knocking, till ' his 
head was filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night.' 

(2.) His friendly compellation, ' Open to me, my love, my dove, my un- 
defiled.' Lo, here are sweet actions, sweet words, and all to melt the heart 
of the spouse ! 

First, the church's achioidedrpnent is to be considered, confessing, ' It is 
the voice of her beloved.' The first thing to be observed in this acknow- 
ledgment is, that the church, however sleepy and drowsy she was, yet not- 
withstanding, her heart was so far awake as to know the voice of her hus- 
band. The point is this, 

Ohs. That a Christian soul doth know and may discern the voice of Christ, 
yea, and that even in a lazy, sleepy estate, but much more when in a good and 
lively frame. God's believers are Christ's sheep, John x. 3. Now, ' My 
sheep,' saith Christ, ' hear my voice,' verse 4. It is the ear-mark, as 
it were, of a Christian, one of the characters of the new man, ' to taste 
words by the ear,' as Job saith, Job xii. 11. He hath a spiritual taste, a 
discerning relish in his ear, because he hath the Spirit of God, and there- 
fore rolisheth what is connatural, and suitable to the Spirit. Now, the voice 
of Christ without in the ministry, and the Spirit of Christ within in the 
heart, are connatural, and suitable each to other. 

And surely so it is, that this is one way to discern a true Christian from 
■ another, even by a taste in hearing. For those that have a spiritual relish, 
they can hear with some delight things that are most spiritual. As the 
heathen man said of a meadow, that some creatures come to cat one sort of 
herbs, others another, all that which is fit for them ; men to walk therein for 
delight; all for ends suitable to their nature; so, in coming to hear the word 
of God, some come to observe the elegancy of words and phrases, some to 
catch advantage perhaps against the speaker, men of a devihsh temper ; and 
some to conform themselves to the customs of the places they live in, or to 
satisfy the clamours of a troubled conscience, that will have some divine 
duty performed, else it goes on with much vexation. But every true Chris- 
tian comes and relisheth what is spiritual ; and when outward things can 
convey in similitudes spiritual things aptly to the mind, he relisheth this, not 
as elegant and pleasing his fancy so much, as for conveying the voice of 
Christ unto his soul, so that a man may much be helped to know his state 
in grace and what he is, by his ear. ' IteLing ears,' 2 Tim. iv. 3, usually 
are such as are ' led with lust,' as the apostle saith, and they must be clawed. 
They are sick, and nothing will down with them. They quarrel with every- 
thing that is wholesome, as they did with manna. No sermons will please 
them, no bread is fine and white enough ; whereas, indeed, it is their own 
distemper is in fault. As those that go in a ship upon the sea, it is not the 
tossing but the stomach that causeth a sickness, the choler within, and not 
the waves without, so the disquiet of these men, that nothing will down with 
them, is from their own distemper. If Christ himself were here a-preach- 
ing, they would be sure to cavil at something, as then men did when he 
preached in his own person, because they labour of lusts, which they resolve 
to feed and cherish. 

Cant. V. 2." * it is the voice of my beloved.' 57 

And again, observe it against our adversaries, WTiat say they ? How 
shall we know that the word is the word of God ? For this heretic saith 
thus, and this interprets it thus. This is the common objection of the great 
rabbis amongst them in their writings, how we can know the word to be 
God's, considering there are such heresies in the churches, and such con- 
trariety of opinions concerning the Scriptures read in the churches. 

Even thus to object and ask is an argument and testimony that these 
men have not the Spirit of Christ, for ' his sheep know his voice,' John 
X. 3, who, howsoever they cannot interpret all places of Scripture, yet they 
can discern in the Scripture what is suitable food for them, or in the un- 
folding of the Scriptures in preaching they can discern agreeable food for 
them, having a faculty to reject that which is not fit for nourishment, to 
let it go. As there is in nature passages fit for concoction and digestion 
and for rejection, so there is in the soul to work out of the word, even out 
of that which is hard, yet wholesome, what is fit for the soul and spirit. 
If it be cast down, it feeds upon the promises for direction and consolation; 
and what is not fit for nourishment, that it rejects, that is, if it be of a con- 
trary nature, heterogeneal. Therefore, we answer them thus, that ' God's 
sheep hear his voice,' John x. 4 ; that his word left in the church, when it 
is unfolded, his Spirit goes together with it, breeding a relish of the word 
in the hearts of people, whereby they are able to taste and relish it, and it 
hath a supernatural power and majesty in it which carries its own evidence 
with it. How shall we know light to be light? It carries evidence in 
itself that it is light. How know we that the fire is hot ? Because it 
carries e\idence in itself that it is so. So if you ask how we know the word 
of God to be the word of God ; it carries in itself inbred arguments and cha- 
racters, that the soul can say none but this word can be the word of God ; 
it hath such a majesty and power to cast down, and raise up, and to com- 
fort, and to direct with such power and majesty, that it carries with it its 
own evidence, and it is argument enough for it, 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25; 2 Cor. 
X. 4, 5. And thus we answer them, which they can answer no way but by 
cavils. * God's sheep hear the voice of Christ.' He speaks, and the church 
understands him, ' and a stranger's voice they will not hear,' John x. 5. 

And indeed, this is the only sure way of understanding the word to be 
of God, from an inbred principle of the majesty in the word, and a power- 
ful work thereof on the soul itself; and an assent so grounded is that which 
makes a sound Christian. If we should ask, what is the reason there be 
so many that apostatize, fall away, grow profane, and are so unfruitful 
under the gospel, notwithstanding they hear so much as they do ? The 
answer is, their souls were never founded and bottomed upon this, that it 
is the word of God, and divine truth, so as to be able to say, I have felt it 
by experience, that it is the voice of Christ. Therefore they so soon apos- 
tatize, let Jesuits, or seducers set upon them. They were never persuaded 
from inbred arguments, that the voice of Christ is the word of God. Others 
from strictness grow profane, because they were never convinced by the 
power and majesty of the truth in itself ; and then in the end they despair, 
notwithstanding all the promises, because they were never connnced of the 
truth of them. They cannot say Amen to all the promises. But the church 
can say confidently, upon sound experience, ' It is the voice of my beloved,' &c. 

Again, whereas the church saith here. It is the voice of my beloved, &c., 
and knows this voice of her beloved, we may note — 

Ohs. That the church of God, and cvcnj Chridian,tal:cs notice of the means 
• thai (jod uscth for their salcaiioii. 


A Christian is sensible of all the blessed helps he hath to salvation. To 
a dead heart, it is all one whether they have means or no means ; but a 
Christian soul takes notice of all the means. ' It is the voice of my beloved 
that knocketh.' It seeth Christ in all. 

And mark what the church saith, moreover, ' It is the voice of my 
beloved.' She acknowledgeth Christ to be beloved of her, though she were 
asleep. So then here is a distinction between the sleep of a Christian and 
the dead sleep of another natural man. The one when he sleeps, his heart 
doth not only wake, but it is awake to discern the voice of Christ. It can 
relish in reading what is spiritual and good, what is savoury, and what not. 
And likewise take a Christian at the worst : when he is asleep, he loves 
Christ, he will do nothing against him. ' I can do nothing,' saith Paul, 
' against the truth, but for the truth,' 2 Cor. xiii. 8. He will do nothing 
against the cause of religion. There is a new nature in him, that he can- 
not do otherwise. He cannot but love ; he cannot sin with a full purpose, 
nor speak against a good cause, because he hath a new nature, that leads 
him another way. Christ is her beloved still though she sleep. 

Obs. Take a Christian at the lowest, his heart yearns after Christ. 

Acloiowledging him to be his beloved, there is a conjugal chastity in the 
soul of a Christian. Holding firm to the covenant and marriage between 
Christ and it, he keeps that unviolable. Though he may be untoward, 
sleepy, and drowsy, yet there is always a conjugal, spouse-like affection. 
' It is the voice of my beloved,' &c. 

Now, leaving the church's notice of the voice of Christ, we come to 
Christ's carriage towards her. 

1 . 'He knocketh ; ' and then we have — 

2. His patience in that carriage. * My head is filled with dew, and my 
locks with the drops of the night,' &c. Here is patience and mercy, to 
endure this indignity at the church's hand, to stand at her courtesy to come 
in ; besides, 3, the compellation, afterwards to be spoken of. The general 
observation from Christ's carriage is this — 

06s. That Christ still desires a further and further communion with his church. 

Even as the true soul that is touched with the Spirit, desires nearer and 
nearer communion with Christ ; so he seeks nearer and nearer communion 
with his spouse, by all sanctified means. Christ hath never enough of the 
sflul. He would have them more and more open to him. Our hearts are 
for Christ, who hath the heaven of heavens, and the soul of a believing 
Christian for himself to dwell in. He contents not himself to be in heaven 
alone, but he will have our hearts. He knocks here, waits, speaks friendly 
and lovingly, with such sweet words, ' My love, my dove,' &c. We had a 
blessed communion in the state of innocency, and shall have a glorious 
communion in heaven, when the marriage shall be consummated ; but now 
the time of this life is but as the time of the contract, during which there 
are yet many mutual passages of love between him and his spouse, a desire 
of mutual communion of either side. Christ desires further entertainment 
in his chiu'ch's heart and aflection, that he might lodge and dwell there. 
And likewise there is the like desire in the church, when she is in a right 
temper ; so that if any strangeness be between Christ and any man's soul, 
that hath tasted how good the Lord is, let him not blame Christ for it, for 
he delights not in strangeness. He that knocks and stands knocking, 
while his locks are bedewed with the drops of the night, doth he delight in 
strangeness, that makes all this love to a Christian's soul ? Certainly no. 

Therefore look for the cause of his strangeness at any time in thine 

Cant. V. 2.j * it is the voice of my beloved.' 5{> 

own self. As, xvkether we cast ourselves imprudenthj into company, that are 
not fit to be consulted withal, in whom the Spirit is not, and who cannot do 
us any good, or they cast themselves to us. Evil company is a great 
damping, whereby a Christian loseth his comfort much, especially that 
intimate communion with God ; whence we may fall into security. 

Again, discontinuinff of religious exercises doth wonderfully cause Christ to 
withdraw himself. He makes no more love to our souls, when wc nedect 
the means, and discontinue holy exercists, and religious company, when 
we stir not up the graces of God's Spirit. Being this way negligent, it is 
no wonder that Christ makes no more love to our souls, when we prize and 
value not the communion that should be between the soul and Christ, as 
we should. * Whom have I in heaven but thee?' Ps. Ixxiii. 25. ' Thy 
lovingkindness is better than life,' saith the psalmist, Ps. Ixiii. 3. When 
we prize not this, it is just with Christ to make himself strange. Where 
love is not valued and esteemed, it is estranged, and for a while hides 
itself. So that these, with other courses and failings, we may find to bo 
the ground and reason of the strangeness between Christ and the soul, for 
certainly the cause is not in him. For we see here, he useth all means to 
be entertained by a Christian soul : ' he knocks.' 

You kno>v what he says to the church of Laodicea — ' Behold, I stand at 
the door, and knock,' Kev. iii. 20 ; so here — ' It is the voice of my beloved 
that knocketh.' Therefore, in such a case, search your own hearts, where, 
if there be deadness and desertion of spirit, lay the blame upon yourselves, 
and enter into a search of your ovra ways, and see what may be the cause. 

Now, to come more particularly to Christ's carriage here, knocking at 
the heart of the sleepy church, we see that Christ takes not the advantage 
and forfeiture of the sins of his church, to leave them altogether, but makes 
further and further love to them. Though the church be sleepy, Christ 
continues knocking. The church of Laodicea was a lukewarm, proud, 
hypocritical church ; yet ' Behold,' saith Christ, ' I stand at the door, and 
knock,' Rev. iii. 20 ; and it was such a church as was vainglorious and 
conceited. ' I am rich, and want nothing, when she was poor, blind, and 
naked,' Rev. iii. 17. And here he doth not only stand knocking, but he 
withal suffereth indignities-^—' the dew ' to fall upon him, which we shall 
speak more of hereafter. Christ, therefore, refuseth not weak sinners. He 
that commands, ' that we should receive him that is weak in the faith,' 
Rom. xiv. 1, and not cast him off from our fellowship and company, will 
he reject him that is weak and sleepy ? No. What father will pass by 
or neglect his child, for some failings and weaknesses ? Nature will movo 
him to respect him as his child. 

Now, Christ is merciful both by his office and by his nature. Our 
nature he took upon him, that he might be a merciful Redeemer, Heb. ii. 
17. And then as God also, he is love, * God is love,' 1 John iv. 16 : that 
is, whatsoever God shews himself to his church, he doth it in love. If he 
be angry in correcting, it is out of love ; if merciful, it is out of love ; if he 
be powerful in defending his church, and revenging himself on her enemies, 
all is love. ' God is love,' saith John, John iv. 8 : that is, he shews him- 
self only in ways, expressions, and characters of love to his church. So 
Christ, as God, is all love to the church, j:\jid we see the Scriptures also 
to set out God as love, both in his essence and in his relations. 1. In 
relations of love to his church, he is a father : ' As a father pitieth his 
child, so the Lord pities them that fear him,' Ps. ciii. 13. And, 2. Also 
in those sweet attributes of love, which are his essence, as we see, Exod. 


xxsiv. 6. When God describes himself to Moses, after liis desire to know 
liim, in tlie former chapter, ' Thou canst not see me and hve ; ' yet he 
would make him know him, as was fit for him to be kno^vn — ' Jehovah, 
Jehovah, strong, merciful, gracious, long-suffering,' &c., Exod. xxxiv. 6. 
Thus God will be known in these attributes of consolation. So Christ, as 
God, is all love and mercy. Likewise Christ, as man, he was man for this 
end, to be all love and mercy. Take him in his office as Jesus, to be a 
Saviour ; he carrieth salvation in his wings, as it is in Mai. iv. 2, both by 
office and by nature. 

And here how excellently is the expression of Christ's mercy, love, and 
patience set out! He knocks, 'my beloved knocks,' &c., saying, ' Open.' 
He knocks for further entrance, as was shewed before. Some he had 
already, but he would have further. As you know we have divers rooms 
and places in our houses. There is the court, the hall, the parlour, and 
closet : the hall for common persons, the parlour for those of better 
fashion, the closet for a man's self, and those that are intimate friends. 
So a Christian hath room in his heart for worldly thoughts, but his closet, 
his inmost affections, are kept for his inmost friend Christ, who is not con- 
tent with the hall, but will come into the very closet. He Imocks, that we 
should open, and let him come into our hearts, into our more intimate 
affections and love. Nothing will content him but intimateness, for he de- 
serves it. As we shall see, he knocks for this end. But how doth he 
knock ? 

Every kiii-d of way. 1. It is taken from the fashion of men in this kind, 
God condescending to speak to us in our own language. Sometimes, you 
know, there is a knocking or calling for entrance by voice, when a voice 
may serve, and then there needs no further knocking. 

Sometimes both by voice and knocking. If voice will not serve, knock- 
ing comes after. So it is here. Christ doth knock and speak, useth a 
voice of his word, and knocks by his works, and both together sometimes, 
whether by works of mercy or of judgment. He labours to enter into the 
soul, to raise the sleepy soul that way. He begins with mercy iisually. 

(1.) By mercies. All the creatures and blessings of God caiTy in them, 
as it were, a voice of God to the soul, that it would entertain his love. 
There goes a voice of love with every blessing. And the love, the mercy, 
and the goodness of God in the creature, is better than the creature itself. 
As we say of gifts, the love of the giver is better than the gift itself. So 
the love of God in all his sweet benefits is better than the thing itself. 
And so in that we have. There is a voice, as it were, entreating us to 
entertain God and Christ in all his mercies, yea, every creature, as one 
saith, and benefit, speaks, as it were, thus to us : We serve thee, that thou 
mayest serve him that made thee and us. There is a speech, as it were, 
in every favour. Which mercies, if they cannot prevail, then, 

(2.) Come corrections, which are the voice of God also. 'Hear the rod, 
and him that smiteth,' Micah vi. 9. 

2. But hath the rod a voice ? Yes, for what do corrections speak, but 
amendment of the fault we are corrected for? So we must hear the rod. All 
corrections tend to this purpose. They are as knockings, that we should open 
to God and Christ. And because corrections of themselves will not amend us, 
God to this kind of knocking adds a voice. He teacheth and corrects to- 
gether, ' Happy is that man that thou correctest, and teachest out of thy law,' 
saith the psalmist, Ps. xciv. 12. Correction without teaching is to little pur- 
pose. Thcrciore God adds instruction to correction. He opens the conscience, 

Cant. V. 2.1 ' it is thk voice of my beloved.' 61 

so that it tells us it is for this that you are corrected ; and together with 
conscience, gives his Spirit to tell us it is for this or that you are corrected; 
you are to blame in this, this you have done that you should not have 
done. So that corrections are knockings, but then especially when they 
have instruction thus with them. They are messengers from God, both 
blessings and corrections, Lev. xxvi. 24, seq. They will not away, espe- 
cially corrections, till they have an answer, for they are sent of God, who 
will add seven times more ; and if the first be not answered, then he sends 
after them. He will be sure to have an answer, either in our conversion or 
confusion, when he begins once. 

3. Many other ways he useth to knock at our hearts. The examples of 
those ue live amour/ that are good, they call upon us, Luke xiii. 2, 3 ; 1 Cor. x. 33. 
The patterns of their holy life, the examples of God's justice upon others, 
are speeches to us, God loiocks at our door then. He intends our cor- 
rection when he visits another, when, if we amend by that, he needs not 
take us in hand. 

4. But besides all this, there is a more near knocking that Christ useth 
to the chm'ch, his ministerial knocking. When he was here in the days of 
his flesh, he was a preacher and prophet himself, and now he is ascended 
into heaven, he hath given gifts to men, and men to the church, Eph. iv. 
11, seq., whom he speaks by, to the end of the world. They are Chi-ist's 
mouth, as we said of the penmen of holy Scripture. They were but 
the hand to write ; Chi'ist was the head to indite. So in preaching and 
unfolding the word they ai-e but Christ's mouth and his voice, as it is said 
of John, Mat. iii. 3. Now he is in heaven, he speaks by them, ' He 
that heareth you heareth me, he that despiseth you despiseth me,' Luke 
X. 16. Christ is either received or rejected in his ministers, as it is said 
of Noah's time, ' The Spirit of Christ preached in the days of Noah to the 
souls now in prison,' &c., 1 Pet. iii. 19. Christ as God did preach, before 
he was incarnate, by Noah to the old w^orld, which is now in prison, in hell, 
because they refused to hear Christ speak to them by Noah. Much more 
now, after the days of his flesh, that he is in heaven, he speaks and preach- 
eth to us, which, if we regard not, we are like to be in prison, as those 
souls are now in prison for neglecting the preaching of Noah, 1 Pet iii. 19. 
So the ministers are Christ's mouth. When they speak, he speaks by 
them, and they are as ambassadors of Christ, whom they should imitate in 
mildness. ' We therefore, as ambassadors, beseech and entreat you, as if 
Christ by us should speak to you ; so v/e entreat you to be reconciled unto 
God,' 2 Cor. v. 20. And you know what heart-breaking words the apostle 
useth in all his epistles, especially when he writes to Christians in a good state, 
as to the Philippians, ' If there be any bowels of mercy, if there be any 
consolation in Christ,' then regard what I say, ' be of one mind.' Phil. ii. 1. 
And among the Thessalonians he was as a nurse to them, 1 Thess. ii. 7. 
So Christ speaks by them, and puts his own affections into them, that as 
he is tender and full of bowels himself, so he hath put the same bowels 
into those that are his true ministers. 

He speaks by them, and they use all kind of means that Christ may be 
entertained into their hearts. They move all stones, as it were, sometimes 
threatcuings, sometimes entreaties, sometimes they come as ' sons of thun- 
der,' Mark iii. 17 ; sometimes with the still voice of sweet promises. And 
because one man is not so fit as another for all varieties of conditions and 
spirits, therefore God gives variety of gifts to his ministers, that they may 
knock at the heart of every man by their several gifts. For some havo 


more rousing, some more insinuating gifts ; some more legal, some more 
evangelical spirits, yet all for the church's good. John Baptist, by a more 
thundering way of preaching, to make way for Christ to come, threateneth 
judgment. But Christ, then he comes with a ' Blessed are the poor in 
spirit,' * blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness,' &c., 
Mat V. 3. All kind of means have been used in the ministry from the be- 
ginning of the world. 

5. And because of itself this ministry it is a dead letter ; therefore he 
joins that with the word, which knocks at the heart together with the word, 
not severed from it, but is the life of it. Oh! the Spirit is the life, and soul of 
the word ; and when the inward word, or voice of the Spirit, and the out- 
ward word or ministry go together, then Christ doth more effectually knock 
and stir up the heart. 

Now this Spirit with sweet inspirations knocks, moves the heart, lightens 
the imderstanding, quickens the duU affections, and stirs them up to duty, 
as it is, Isa. xxx. 21, ' And thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee say- 
ing, This is the way, walk in it.' The Spirit moves us sweetly, agreeable to 
our own nature. It offers not violence to us ; but so as in Hosea xi. 4, ' I 
drew them by the cords of a man.' That is, by reasons and motives be- 
fitting the nature of man, motives of love. So the Spirit, together with 
the word, works upon us, as we are men by rational motives, setting good 
before us, if we will let Christ in to govern and rule us ; and by the dan- 
ger on the contrary, so moving and stirring up our affections. These be 
* the cords of a man.' 

6. And besides his Spirit, God hath planted in us a conscience to call 
upon us, to be his vicar ; a little god in us to do his office, to call upon us, 
direct us, chock and condemn us, which in great mercy he hath placed in us. 

Thus we see what means Christ useth here — his voice, Avorks, and word ; 
works of mercy and of correction ; his word, together with his Spirit, and 
the conscience, that he hath planted, to be, as it were, a god in us ; which 
together with his Spirit may move us to duty. This Austin speaks of 
when he says, Deus in me, &c. * God spake in me oft, and I knew it not' (/). 
He means it of conscience, together with the Spirit, stirring up motives to 
leave his sinful coui'ses. God knocked in me, and I considered it not. 
I cried, modb and modb, sine modo. I put off God, now I will, and now I 
will, but I had no moderation, I knew no limits. And v/hilst Christ thus 
knocketh, all the three persons maybe said to do it. For as it is said else- 
where, that ' God was and is in Christ reconciling the world,' &c., 2 Cor. 
V. 19. For whatsoever Christ did, he did it as anointed, and by office. 
And therefore God doth it in Christ, and by Christ, and so in some sort 
God died in his human nature, when Christ died. So here the father be- 
seecheth when Christ beseecheth, because he beseecheth, that is sent from 
him, and anointed of the Father. And God the Father stoops to us 
when Christ stoops, because he is sent of the Father, and doth all by his 
Father's command and commission, John v. 27. So besides his own bowels, 
there is the Father and the Spirit with Christ, who doth all by his Spirit, 
and from his Father, from whom he hath commission. Therefore God the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost knock at the heart. ' Open to me, my love, 
my dove, my undefiled ;' but Christ especially by his Spirit, because it is 
his office. 

Ohj. But some may object, Christ can open to himself, why doth he not 
take the key and open, and make way for himself ? Who will knock, when 
he hath the key himself ? and who will knock, when there is none within 

Cant. V. 2.j ' it is the voice of my beloved.' 68 

to open ? Christ can open to himself, and we have no free will, nor power 
to open. 

Bellannine makes this objection, and speaks very rudely, that he is an 
unwise man to knock, where there is no man within to open ; and that if 
Christ knock, and we cannot open, it is a delusion to exhort to open, and 
that therefore there must needs be free will in us to open (f*). 

The answer \s, first, Christ speaks to the spouse here, and so, many such 
exhortations are given to them that have the Spirit of God already, who 
could by the help thereof open. For good and gracious men are moved 
first by the Spirit, and then they move ; they are ynotl moventes, and acti 
agentes. They are acted first by the Spii'it, and then they do act by it, 
not of themselves ; as the inferior orbs move not, but as they are moved 
by the superior. The question is not of them in the state of grace, but at 
their first conversion, when especially we say that Christ speaks to them that 
he means to convert. He knocks at their hearts, and opens together with 
his speech. Then there goes a power that they shall open ; for his words 
are operative words. As it was in the creation, ' Let there be light,' it was 
an operative word, ' and there was light,' Gen. i. 3. Let there be such a 
creature, it was an operative working word, and there was such a creature 
presently. So he opens together with that word. With that invitation and 
command there goes an almighty power to enable the soul to open. Were 
it not a wise reason to say, when Christ called to Lazarus to ' come forth,' 
John xi. 43, that we should reason he had life to yield to Christ, when he 
bade him come forth? No, he was rotten, in his grave, almost ; but with 
Chi-ist's speaking to Lazarus, there went an almighty power, that gave life 
to him, by which life he heard what Christ said, ' Ai'ise, Lazarus.' So 
Christ by his Spirit clothes his word in the ministry, when he speaks to 
people with a mighty power. As the minister speaks to the ear, Christ 
speaks, opens, and unlocks the heart at the same time ; and gives it power 
to open, not from itself, but fi"om Christ. Paul speaks to Lydia's ear, 
Christ to her heart, and opened it, as the text says. Acts svi. 13, whereby 
she behoves ; -'•= so Christ opens the heart. 

Quest. But why doth he thus work ? 

Ans. Because he will preserve nature, and the principles thereof; and so 
he deals with us, working accordingly. The manner of working of the 
reasonable creature, is to work freely by a sweet inclination, not by violence. 
Therefore when he works the work of conversion, he doth it in a sweet 
manner, though it be might}' for the efficaciousness of it. He admonisheth 
us with entreaty and persuasion, as if we did it om-selves. But though the 
manner be thus sweet, yet with this manner there goeth an almighty power. 
Therefore he doth it strongly as coming from himself, and sweetly, as the 
speaking is to us, preserving our nature. So the action is from him, which 
hath an almighty power with it. As holy Bernard saith, ' Thou dealest 
sweetly with my soul in regard of myself; ' that is, thou workest upon me, 
as a man with the words of love, yet strongly in regard of thyself. For 
except he add strength with sweetness, the work wih not follow ; but 
when there are both, an almighty work is wrought in the soul of a Christian ; 
and so wrought, as the manner of man's working is preserved in a sweet 
and fr^e manner, whilst he is changed fi'om contraiy to contrary. And it is 
also Vv'ith the gi-eatest reason that can be, in that now he sees more reason 
to be good, than in the days of darkness he did to be naught, God works 

* ' Lj'dia's Heart Opened,' is the title of one of Sibbes's most delightful minor 
books. — G 


SO sweetly. God speaks to us after the manner of men, but he works in us 
as the gi-eat God. He speaks to us as a man in our own language, sweetly; 
but he works in us almightily, after a powerful manner, as God. So we 
must understand such phrases as these, 'I knock; open to me, my love, my 
dove,' &c. We may take further notice, 

Obs. That the heart of a Christian is the house and temple of Christ. 

He hath but two houses to dwell in ; the heavens, and the heart of an 
humble broken-hearted sinner, Isa. Ivii. 15. 

Quest. How can Christ come into the soul ? 

Aus. He comes into the heart by his Spirit. It is a special entertain- 
ment that he looks for. Open thine ears that thou mayest hear my word ; 
thy love, that thou mayest love me more ; thy joy, that thou mayest delight 
in me more ; open thy whole soul that I may dwell in it. A Christian should 
be God's house, and a true Christian is the true temple of God. He left the 
other two temples therefore ; but his own body, and his church he never 
leaves. For a house is for a man to solace himself in, and to rest in, and 
to lay up whatsoever is precious to him. So with Christ. A man will re- 
pair his house, so Christ will repair our souls, and make them better, and make 
them more holy, and spiritual, and every way fit for such a guest as he is. 

Quest. How shall we know whether Christ dwells in our hearts or not ? 

Ans. We may know hij the servants what master dwells in an house. If 
Christ be in the soul, there comes out of the house good speeches. And we 
watch the senses, so as there comes nothing in to defile the soul, and disturb 
Christ, and nothing goes out to offend God. When we hear men full of 
gracious sweet speeches, it is a sign Chi'ist dwells there. If we hear the 
contrary, it shews Christ dwells not there. For Chiist would move the 
whole man to do that which might edify and comfort. 

Again, where Christ comes, assistance comes there. When Christ wa9 
born, all Jerusalem was in an uproar ; so, when Christ is born in the soul, 
there is an uproar. Corruption arms itself against grace. There is a com- 
bat betwixt flesh and spirit. But Christ subdues the flesh by little and 
little. God's image is stamped upon the soul where Christ is ; and if we 
have opened unto the Lord of glory, he will make us glorious. 

Christ hath never enough of us, nor we have never enough of him till we 
be in heaven ; and, therefore, we pray, ' Thy kingdom com^e.' And till 
Christ comes in his kingdom, he desires his kingdom should come to us. 
Open, saith he, stujyenda dirpiatio, &c., as he cries out. It is a stupendous 
condescendence, when he that hath heaven to hold him, angels to attend 
him, those glorious creatures ; he that hath the command of every creature, 
that do yield presently homage when he commands, the frogs, and lice, and 
all the host of heaven are ready to do his will ! for him to condescend and 
to entreat us to be good to our own souls, and to beseech us to be recon- 
ciled to him, as if he had ofiended us, who have done the wrong and not 
he, or as if that we had power and riches to do him good ; here greatness 
beseecheth meanness, riches poverty, all-sufficiency want, and life itself 
comes to dead, drowsy souls. What a wondrous condescending is this ! 
Yet, notwithstanding, Christ vouchsafes to make the heart of a sinful, 
sleepy man to be his house, his temple. He knocks, and knocks here, 
saying, ' Open to me,' &c. 

Use 1. This is useful many ways, asjirst, cherish all the good conceits^ ice 
can of Christ. Time will come that the devil will set upon us with sharp 
temptations, fiery darts, temptations to despair, and present Christ amiss, 
* That is, ' conceptions.' — G. 

Cant. V. 2.] ' it is the voice of t>ty beloved.' 65 

as if Christ were not willing to receive U3. Whenas you see ho knocks at 
our hearts to open to him, useth mercies and judgments, the ministry' of his 
Spirit and conscience, and all. Will not he then entertain us, when we 
come to him, that seeks this entertainment at our hands? Certainly he 
will. Therefore, let us labour to cherish good conceits of Christ. This is 
the finisher and beginning of the conversion of a poor sinful soul, even to 
consider the infinite love and condescendence of Christ Jesus for the good of 
oiu' souls. We need not wonder at this his willingness to receive us, when 
we first know that God became man, happiness became misery, and life 
itself came to die, and to be 'a curse for us,' Gal. iii. 13. He hath done 
the greater, and will he not do the less ? Therefore, think not strange that 
he useth all these means, considering how low he descended into the womb 
of the virgin for us, Ephes. iv. 9. 

Now such considerations as these, being mixed with the Spirit and set 
on by him. m'o efiectual for the conversion of poor souls. Is there such 
love in God to become man, and to be a suitor to woo me for my love ? 
Surelj-, thinks the soul then, he desu'es my salvation and conversion. And 
to what kind of persons doth he come ? None can object unworthiness. 
I am poor : ' He comes to the poor,' Isa. xiv. 32 and xxix. 19. I am 
laden and wretched : ' Come imto me, all ye that are weary and laden,' 
Mat. xi. 28. I have nothing : ' Come and buy honey, milk, and wine, 
though you have nothing,' Isa. Iv. 1. He takes away all objections. But 
I am stung with the sense of my sins : ' Blessed are they that hunger and 
thirst,' &c.. Mat. v. 6. But I am empty of all : ' Blessed are the poor in 
spirit,' Mat. v. 3. You can object nothing, but it is taken away by the 
Holy Ghost, wisely preventing* all the objections of a sinful soul. This is 
the beginning of conversion, these very conceits. And when we are con- 
verted, these thoughts, entertained with admiration of Christ's condescend- 
ing, are effectual to give Christ further entrance into the soul, whereby a 
more happy communion is wrought still more and more between Christ and 
the soul of a Christian. 

Use 2. Oh, but take heed that these malce not any secure. For, if we give 
not entrance to Christ, aU this will be a ftu'ther aggravation of our damna- 
tion. How will this justify the sentence upon us hereafter, when Christ 
shall set us on the left hand, and say, ' Depart from me,' Mat. xxv. 41, for 
I invited you to come to me, I knocked at the door of youi- hearts, and you 
would give me no entrance. Depart from us, said you ; therefore, now, 
Depart you from me. What do profane persons in the church but bid 
Christ depart from them, especially in the motions of his Spirit ? They 
entertain him in the outward room, the brain ; they know a little of Christ, 
but, in the heart, the secret room, he must not come there to rale. Is it 
not equal that he should bid us, ' Depart, ye cursed, I know you not' ? Mat. 
xxv. 41 ; you would not give entrance to me, I will not now to you, as to the 
foolish virgins he speaks, Mat. xxv. 12, and Prov. i. 28. Wisdom Imocks, 
and hath no entrance ; therefore, in times of danger, they call upon her, 
but she rejoiceth at their destruction. Where God magnifies his mercy in 
this kind, in sweet allurements, and inviting by judgments, mercies, minis- 
tr}', and Spirit, he will magnify his judgment after. Those that have 
neglected heaven with the prerogatives and advantages in this kind, they 
shall be cast into hell. ' Woe to thee, Chorazin,' &c.. Mat. xi. 21, as you 
know in the gospel. This is one thivg that may humble us of this place 
and nation, that Christ hatli no further entrance, nor better entertainment 
* That is, ' anticipating.' — G. 



after so long knocking ! for the entertaining of his word is the welcoming 
of himself, as it is, Col. iii. 16. * Let the word of God dwell plentifully in 
you.' And, ' Let Christ dwell in your hearts by faith,' Eph. iii. 17. Com- 
pare those places ; let the word dwell plenteously in you by wisdom, and 
let Christ dwell in your hearts by faith. For then doth Christ dwell in the 
heart, when the truth dwells in us. Therefore, what entertainment we give 
to his trath, we give to himself. Now what means of knocking hath he not 
used among us a long time ? For works of all sorts, he hath drawn us by 
the cords of a man, by all kind of favours. For mercies, how many deli- 
verances have we had (no nation the like ; we are a miracle of the Chris- 
tian world) from foreign invasion, and domestical conspiracies at home ? 
How many mercies do we enjoy ! Abundance, together with long peace and 
plenty. Besides, if this would not do, God hath added corrections with all 
these, in every element, in every manner. Infection in the air, judgments 
in inundations. We have had rumours of wars, &c. Threatenings, shakings 
of the rod only, but such as might have awaked us. And then he hath 
knocked at our hearts by the example of other nations. By what he hath 
done to them, he hath shewed us what he might justly have done to us. 
We are no better than they. 

As for his ministerial knocking : above threescore years we have lived 
under the ministry of the gospel. This land hath been Goshen, a land of 
light, when many other places are in darkness. Especially we that live in 
this Goshen, this place, and such like, where the light shines in a more 
abundant measure. Ministers have been sent, and variety of gifts. There 
hath been piping and mourning, as Christ complains in his time, that they 
were like fro ward children, that neither sweet piping nor doleful mourning 
would move to be tractable to their fellows. ' They had John, who came 
mourning,' Mat. xi. 17, and Christ comforting with blessing in his mouth. 
All kind of means have been used. 

And for the motions of his Spirit, who are there at this time, who thus 
live in the church under the ministry, who cannot say that God thereby 
hath smote their hearts, those hard rocks, again and again, and awaked 
their consciences, partly with corrections public and personal, and partly 
with benefits ? Yet notwithstanding, what little way is given to Christ ! 
Many are indifierent, and lukewarm either way, but rather incline to the 

Let us then consider of it. The greater means, the greater judgments 
afterwards, if we be not won by them. Therefore let us labour to hold 
Christ, to entertain him. Let him have the best room in our souls, to 
dwell in our hearts. Let us give up the keys to him, and desire him to 
rule our understandings, to know nothing but him, and what may stand 
with his truth, not to yield to any error or corruption. Let us desire that 
he would rule in our wills and afi'ections ; sway all, give all to him. For 
that is his meaning, when he says, ' Open to me,' so that I may rule, as in 
mine own house, as the husband rules in his family, and a king in his 
kingdom. He will have all yielded up to him. And he comes to beat 
down all, whatsoever is exalted against him ; and that is the reason men 
are so loth to open unto him. They know if they open to the Spirit of 
God, he will turn them out of their fool's paradise, and make them resolve 
upon other courses of life, which, because they will not turn unto, they 
repel the sweet motions of the Spirit of Christ, and pull away his graces, 
building bulwarks against Christ, as lusts, strange imaginations, and reso- 
lutions, 2 Cor. X. 3-5. Let the ministers say what they will, and the Spirit 

Cant. V. 2.] ' it is the voice of my beloved.' 67 

move as ho will, thus they live, and thus they will live. Let us take no- 
tice, therefore, of all the means that God useth to the State, and to us iu 
particular, and every one labour to amend one. Every soul is the temple, 
the house, Christ should dwell in. Let every soul, therefore, among us, 
consider what means Christ useth to come into his soul to dwell with him, 
and to rule there. 

And what shall we lose by it ? Do we entertain Christ to our loss ? 
Doth he come empty ? No ; he comes with all grace. His goodness is a 
communicative, diffusive goodness. He comes to spread his treasures, to 
enrich the heart with all grace and strength, to bear all afflictions, to en- 
counter all dangers, to bring peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy 
Ghost. He comes, indeed, to make our hearts, as it were, a heaven. Do 
but consider this. He comes not for his own ends ; but to empty his 
goodness into our hearts. As a breast that desires to empty itself when it is 
full ; so this fountain hath the fulness of a fountain, which strives to empty 
his goodness into our souls. He comes out of love to us. Let these con- 
siderations melt our hearts for our unkindness, that we suffer him to stand 
so long at the door knocking, as it is said here. 

If we find not our suits answered so soon as we would, remember, we 
have made him also wait for us. Perhaps to humble us, and after that 
to encourage us, he will make us wait ; for we have made him wait. Let 
us not give over, for certainly he that desires us to open, that he may pour 
out his gi-ace upon us, he will not reject us when we come to him. Mat. 
vii. 7 ; Hab. ii. 3. If ho answers us not at first, yet he will at last. Let 
us go on and wait, seeing there is no one duty pressed more in Scripture 
than this. And we see it is equity, ' He waits for us,' Isa. sxx. 18. It is 
good reason we should wait for him. If we have not comfort presently 
when we desire it, let us attend upon Christ, as he hath attended upon us, 
for when he comes, he comes with advantage, Isa. Ix. 16. So that when 
we wait, we lose nothing thereby, but are gainers by it, increasing our 
patience, Isa. Ixiv. 4 ; James i. 4. The longer we wait, he comes with the 
more abundant grace and comfort in the end, and shews himself rich, and 
bountiful to them that wait upon him, Isa. il. 1, et seq. 


It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open unto me, my love, my 
dove, my undefiled, <£c. — Cant. V. 2. 

In the first part of this verse hath been handled the church's own condi- 
tion, which she was in, after some blessed feelings that she had of the love 
of Christ. 

Now, in the next words, the church sets down an acknowledgment 
of the carriage of Christ to her in this her sleepy condition. * It is the 
voice of my beloved that knocks, saying. Open to me, my sister, my 
love, my dove,' &c. She acknowledgeth Christ's voice in her sleepy 
estate, and sets down his carriage thus, * how he knocks', and then also 
speaks, ' Open to me,' and then sets down what he suffered for her, * My 
head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.' And 
that nothing might be wanting that might move her heart to respect this 
his carriage towards her, he useth sweet titles, a loving compellation, ' Open 


to me,' saith he, ' my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled,' as so many 
cords of love to draw her. So here wants neither loving carriage, sweet 
•words, nor patience. ' It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh.' 

The church, as she takes notice of the voice of Christ, so she doth 
also of the means he useth, and seeth his love in them all. ' It is the 
voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying. Open to me,' &c. Here is also 
another distinguishing note of a sound Christian from an unsound. A 
sanctified spirit sees Christ in the means. This is, says the heart, the 
word of Clu'ist, and this the mercy of Christ, to take such pains with my 
soul, to send his ministers, to provide his ordinances, to give gifts to men, 
and men to the church, Eph. iv. 11, 12. ' It is the voice of my beloved 
that knocketh.' 

But we must especially understand it of the ministerial voice, whereby 
Christ doth chiefly make way for himself into the heart, and that by all 
kind of ways dispensed therein : as gifts of all sorts, some rougher, some 
milder, all kind of methods and ways in the ministry to make way for him- 
self. First of all by the threatenings of the law, and by terrors. As John 
was sent before Christ, and as the stomi went before the still and calm 
voice, wherein God came to Elias, 1 Kngs xix. 12, so he useth all kinds of 
courses in the ministry. And ministers, by the direction of the Spirit, 
turn themselves, as it were, into all shapes and fashions, both of speech and 
spirit, to win people to God, in so much, that God appeals to them, ' What 
could I have done more for my church, that I have not done ?' Isa. v. 4. 

Use. Therefore let us take notice of this voice of Christ in the word, and 
not think as good Samuel thought, that Eli spake, when God spake, 1 Sam. 
iii. 5. Let us think that God speaks to us in the ministry, that Christ 
comes to woo us, and win us thereby. 

And we ministers are the friends of the Bridegroom, who are to hear 
what Christ saith and would have said to the church ; and we must pray to 
him, that he would teach us what to teach others. We are to procure the 
contract, and to perfect it till the marriage be in heaven. That is our work. 

And you that are hearers, if you do not regard Christ's sweet voice in the 
ministry, which God hath appointed for the government of the world, know 
that there is a voice that you cannot shake off. That peremptory voice at 
the day of judgment, when he will say, ' Go, je cursed, into hell fire,' &c., 
Mat. XXV. 30. And that God who dehghts to be styled ' a God hearing 
prayer,' Ps. Ixv. 2, will not hear thee, but saith, ' Such a one as turns his 
ear away from hearing the law, his prayer is abominable,' Prov. xxviii. 9. 
It is a doleful thing, that he that made us, and allure th us in the ministry, 
that follows us with all evidences of his love, and adds, together with the 
ministry, many sweet motions of his Spirit, that he should delight in the 
destruction of his creatures, and not endure the sight of them, ' Depart 
away from me, ye cursed, into hell fire,' &c. There are scarce any in the 
church, but Christ hath allured at one time or other to come in, and in 
many he opens their understandings in a great measure, and knocks upon 
their hearts, that they, as it were, half open unto Christ, like Agrippa, that 
said to Paul, ' Thou almost persuadest me to be a Christian,' Acts xx\-i. 28. 
So Herod ' did many things, and he heard gladly,' Mark vi. 20. They are 
half open, seem to open, but are not efiectually converted. But at last 
they see, that further yielding will not stand with that which they resolve 
not to part with, their lusts, their present condition, that they make their 
God, and their heaven. Whereupon they shut the door again. When they 
have opened it a Httle to the motions of God's Spirit^ they dare give no 

Cant. V. 2.] ' open to me, my sistek.' 6d 

further way, because they cannot learn the first lesson in Christ's school, to 
deny themselves and take up their cross. 

This is an undoubted conclusion. Our blessed Saviour giveth such means 
and motions of his Spirit to the vilest persons in the church, that their own 
hearts tell them, they have more means and sweeter motions than they 
yield to, and that the sentence of condemnation is not pronounced upon 
them for merely not knowing of Christ, but upon some grounds of re- 
bellion, in that they go not so far^ as they are provoked,* and put on f by the 
Spirit of God. They resist the Holy Spirit. There can be no resistance 
where there is not a going beyond the desire and will of him whom he re- 
sisteth. Acts vii. 51. A man doth not resist, when he gives w\ay as far as 
he is moved. There is no wicked man in the church, that gives so much 
way as he is moved and stirred to by the Spirit and word of God. 

Away then with these impudent, ungracious objections about God's decree 
for matter of election. Let us make it sure. And for any ill conceits that 
may rise in our hearts about that other of reprobation, let this damp them 
all, that in the church of God, he ofiers unto the vilest wretch so much 
means, with the motions of his Spirit, as he resisting, proves inexcusable ; 
his own rebellion therefore being the cause of his rejection. Let men cease 
from cavilling ; God bath that in their own breast, in the heart of every carnal 
man, which will speak for God against him, and stop his mouth that he 
shall be silent and speechless at the day of judgment. Mat. xxii. 12. 

Thus we see that Christ doth condescend so low as to account it almost 
a part of his happiness to have our souls for a temple to dwell in, to rule 
there. Therefore he makes all this earnest suit, with strong expressions 
what he suffereth. 

And since Chiist bears this great and large affection to his poor church, 
it may encom-age us to pray heartily for the same, and to spread before God 
the state thereof. Why, Lord ? it is that part of the world that is thy sister, 
thy love, thy dove, thy undefiled ; the communion with whom thou lovest 
above all the world besides. It is a strong argument to prevail with God. 
Therefore let us commend the state of the church at this time, or at any 
time, with this confidence. Lord, it is the church that thou lovest. They 
thought they prevailed much with Christ when they laboured to bring him 
to Lazarus, saying, ' Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick,' John xi. 3. So 
say we, the church whom thou lovest, that is, thy only love, in whom thy 
love is concenterate,J as it were, and gathered to a head, as though thou 
hadst no other love in the world but thy church, this thy love is in this 
state and condition. It is good to think of prevailing arguments ; not to 
move God so much as our own hearts ; to strengthen our faith to prevail 
vnth God, which is much fortified with the consideration of Christ's won- 
drous loving expression to his poor church. Then come to Christ, offer 
thyself, and he will meet thee. Ai'e not two loving well-wishers well met ? 
"When thou oflcrest thyself to him, and he seeks thy love, will he reject thee 
when thou comest to him that seeks thy love, and seeketh it in this passion- 
ate, afiectionate manner, as he doth ? Therefore, be of good comfort. He 
is more wdlling to entertain us than we are to come to him. 

And for those that have relapsed any kind of way, let them not be dis- 
couraged to return again to Christ. The church here was in a drowsy, 
sleepy estate, and used him imkindly ; yet he is so patient, that he waits 
her leisure, as it were, and saith, ' Open to me, my sister, my love,' &c. 
Thomas was so untoward, that he would not believe, ' unless he did see the 
* That is, 'stirred up.' — G. t That is, ' incited.' — G. J That is ' concentrated.' — Q- 


print of the nails,' &c., in Christ's body. Yet Christ was so gracious as he 
condescendeth to poor Thomas, John xx. 27. So to Peter after he was 
fallen, Mark xvi. 7, and to the church after backsliding. 
' Open to me, my sister,' &c. Hence observe further, 
That Christ hath never enouQh of his chirch till he hath it inheaven, where 
are indeed the kisses of the spouse, and of Christ. In the mean while 
* Open, open,' still. Christ had the heart of the spouse in some measure 
already ; but yet there were some corners of the heart that were not so 
filled with Christ as they should be. He was not so much in her under- 
standing, will, joy, delight, and love, as he would be. Therefore, open thy 
understanding more and more to embrace me, and divine truths that are 
offered thee. Open thy love to solace me more and more. For God in 
Cbffist, having condescended to the terms of friendship, nay, to intimate terms 
of friendship in marriage with us ; therefore- the church in her right temper, 
hath never enough of Christ, but desires further union, and communion still. 
It being the description of the people of God, that ' they love the appearance 
of Christ,' 2 Tim. iv. 8 ; Rev. xxii. 20, as they loved his first appearance, 
and waited for ' the consolation of Israel,' Luke ii. 25 ; so they love his second 
appearing, and are never quiet, till he comes again in the flesh, to consum- 
mate the marriage begun here. So Christ also he is as desirous of 
them, yea, they are his desires that breed their desires. ' Open to me, 
my sister, my love, my dove,' &c. Again his love and pity moves him 
to desire further to come into us. Chi-ist knows what is in our hearts. 
If he be not there, there is that that should not be there. What is 
in the brain where Christ is not ? A deal of worldly projects, nothing 
worth. What is in our joy if Christ be not there ? W^orldly joy, which 
cleaves to things worse than itself. If a man were anatomised, and seen 
into, he would be ashamed of himself, if he did see himself. Christ there- 
fore, out of pity to our souls, would not have the devil there. Christ knows 
it is good for our souls to give way to him, therefore he useth all sweet 
allurements, * Open to me, my sister, my love,' &c. Christ hath never his 
fill, till he close with the soul perfectly ; so that nothing be in the soul 
above him, nothing equal to him. Therefore ' Open, open,' still. 

Again, he sets down, to move the church the more to open to him, the 
inconveniences that he endured, ' My head is filled with dew,' &c. Wherein 
he shews what he suffered, which sufferings are of two sorts : in himself; in 
his ministers. In himself, and in his own blessed person, what did he 
endure ! AVhat patience had he in enduring the refractory spirits of men, 
when he was here ! How many indignities did he digest f in his disciples 
after their conversion ! Towards his latter end, his head was not only 
filled with the drops, but his body filled with drops of blood. Drops of 
blood came from him, because of the anguish of his spirit, and the sense 
of God's wTath for our sins. Upon the cross, what did he endure there ! 
That sense of God's anger there, was only for our sins. ' My God, my 
God, why hast thou forsaken me?' Mat. xxvii. 46. What should we 
speak of his going up and down doing good, preaching in his own person, 
setting whole nights apart for prayer ! And then for what he suffers in bis 
ministers. There he knocks, and saith, ' Open,' in them. And how was 
he used in the apostles that were after him, and in the ministers of the 
church ever since ! What have they endured ! for he put a spirit of 
patience upon them. And what indignities endured they in the primitive 
church, that were the publishers of the gospel ! Those sweet publishers 
* 'As,' deleted here.— G. t That is, ' bear.'— G. 

CaNT» V. 2.j * OPEN TO ME, JIY SISTER.' 71 

thereof, drawing men to open to Christ, were killed for preaching. So 
cruel is the heart, that it oftereth violence to them that love them most, 
that love their souls. And what greater love than the love of the soul ! 
Yet this is the Satanical temper and disposition of men's hearts. They 
hate those men most, that deal this way most truly and lovingly with 
them. It is not that the gospel is such an hard message. It is the word 
of reconciliation, and the word of life ; but the heart hates it, because 
it would draw men from their present condition ; and ' therefore condemna- 
tion is come into the world, in that men hate the light, because their works 
are evil,' John iii. 19. Is there anjrthing truly and cordially hated but 
grace ? and are any persons heartily and cordially hated in the world so 
much as the promulgcrs and publishers of grace, and the professors of it? 
.because it upbraids most of all, and meddles with the corruptions of men, 
that are dearer to them than their own souls. 

Now, what patience is there in Christ to suffer himself iu his messengers, 
and his children to be thus used ! Nor it is not strange to say that Christ 
stands thus in his ministers ; for it is said, ' That Christ by his Spirit 
preached in the days of Noah, to the souls now in prison,' 1 Pet. iii. 19. 
Christ preached in Noah's time, before he was incarnate, much more doth 
he preach now. And as he was patient then to endure the old world, unto 
whom Noah preached a hundred and twenty years ; so he is patient 
now in his ministers to preach still by the same Spirit, even to us still, and 
yet the entertainment in many places is, as Paul complains, ' Though the 
more I love you, yet the less I am beloved of you,' 2 Cor. xii. 15. 

Use 1. Let these thiur/s move us to he j)atient toivards God and Christ, if tee 
be corrected in any kind, considering that Christ is so patient towards us, and 
to wait upon him with patience. How long hath he waited for our con- 
version ! How long doth he still wait for the thorough giving up of our 
souls to him ! Shall we think much, then, to wait a little while for him ? 

Use 2. And let this Spirit of Christ strengthen m likeicise in our dealing 
with others, as to bear with evil men, and as it is, ' to wait, if God will at 
any time give them repentance,' 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26. Neither may we be so 
short-spirited, that if we have not an answer, presently to give over. We 
should imitate Christ here. Never give over as long as God continues life 
with any advantage and opportunity to do good to any soul. Wait, if God 
at any time will give them grace. ' Open to mo, my sister, my love,' &c. 

Use 3. Let this again icork upon its, that our Saviour Christ here would 
thus set forth his love, and his j^fitience in his love, in bearing with us thug, 
under the resemblance of a silly suitor that comes afar oft", and stands at 
the door, and knocks. That Christ should stoop thus in seeking the good 
of our souls, let this win and quicken our hearts with all readiness and 
thankfulness to receive him when he comes to work in om* souls. Con- 
sidering that Christ hath such a care of us by himself, his ministers, and 
the motions of his Spirit, who joins with his ministry, let not us therefore 
be careless of our own souls, but let it move our hearts to melt to him. 
The motives may be seen more in the particular compellations. ' Open to 
me, my sister, my love,' &c. 

* My sister.' This was spoken of before in the former verse. The 
church of God is Christ's sister and spouse. Wc are knit to liim both by con- 
sanguinit}' and by affinity. The nearest affinity is marriage, and the nearest 
consanguinity is sister. So that there are all bonds to Imit us to Christ. 
Whatsoever is strong in any bond, he knits us to him by it. Is there any 
love in an husband, a brother, a mother, a friend, in an head to the mem- 


bers ? in anything in the world ? Is there any love scattered in any rela- 
tion, gather it all into one, and all that love, and a thousand times more 
than that, is in Christ in a more eminent manner. Therefore he styles him- 
self in aU these sweet relations, to shew that he hath the love of all. Will 
a sister shut out a brother, when the brother comes to visit her, and do her 
all good ? Is this unkindness even in nature, to look strangely upon a 
man that is near akin, that comes and saith, ' Open to me, my sister ?' If 
the sister should shut out the brother, were it not most unnatural ? And 
is it not monstrous in gi'ace, when our brother comes for our good, and in 
pity to our souls, to let him stand without doors ? Eemember that Christ 
hath the same affections, to account us brothers and sisters, now in heaven, 
as he had when he was upon the earth. For after his resm-rection, saith 
he to his disciples, ' I go to my God, and to your God, to my Fatber, and 
to your Father,' John xx. 17. He calls himself our brother, having one 
common Father in heaven, and one Spirit, and one inheritance, &c. This 
is a sweet relation. Christ being our brother, his heart cannot but melt 
towards us in any affliction. Joseph dissembled a vrhile, out of politic 
wisdom, Gen. xlii. 7, seq., but because he had a brother's heart to Benjamin, 
therefore at last he could not hold, but melted into tears, though he made 
his countenance as though he had not regarded. So our Joseph, now in 
heaven, may seem to withdraw all tokens and signs of brotherly love from 
us, and not to own us ; but it is only in show, he is our brother still. His 
heart, fii'st or last, will melt towards his brethren, to their wonderful com 
fort. ' My sister,' &c. 

' My love.' That word we had not yet. It is worthy also a little stand- 
ing on, for all these four words be, as it were, the attractive cords to draw 
the spouse, not only by shewing what he had suffered, but by sweet titles, 
' My love, My dove.' 

What, had Christ no love but his spouse ? Did his love go out of his 
own heart to her, as it were ? It is strange, yet true. Christ's love is so 
great to his church and children, and so continual* to it, that his church and 
people and every Christian soul is the seat of his love. That love in his 
own breast being in them, they are his love, because he himself is there, 
and one with them, John xvii. 26. 

He loves all his creatures. They have all some beams of his goodness, 
which he must needs love. Therefore he loves them as creatures, and as 
they be more or less capable of a higher degree of goodness ; but for his 
chui'ch and children, they are his love indeed. 

Quest. But what is the gi'ound of such love ? 

Ans. 1. He loves them as he beholds them in his father's choice, as they are 
elected of God, and given unto himself in election. ' Thine they are, thou 
gavest them me,' John xvii. 6. Christ, looking on us in God's election 
and choice, loves us. 

Ans. 2. Again, he loves us because he sees his own graces in m. He loves 
what is his in us. Before we be actually his, he loves us with a love 
of good will, to wish all good to us. But when we have anything of his 
Spirit, that our natures are altered and changed, he loves us with a love 
of the intimatest friendship, with the love of an head, husband, friend, and 
what we can imagine. He loves his own image. Paul saith ' that the wife 
is the glory of her husband,' 1 Cor. xi. 7, because whatsoever is in a good 
husband, the wife expresseth it by reflection. So the church is the glory 
of Chiist ; she reflects his excellencies, though in a weak measure. They 
* That is. ' abiding.'— G 

Cant. V. 2.] ' my love.' 73 

shew forth his virtues or praises, as Peter speaks, 1 Pet. ii. 9. Thus ho 
sees his own image in her, and the Holy Ghost in his church. Ho loves 
her, and these in her, so as whether we regard the Father or himself or 
his Spirit, the church is his love. 

Alls. 3. Jf ire consider also uhat lie hath done and suffered for her, we may 
well say the church is his love. Besides the former favours, not to speak 
of election, he choosed us before we were. In time he did choose us hy actual 
election, by which he called us. We had an existence, but we resisted. 
He called us when we resisted. And then also he justified us, and clothed 
us with his own righteousness, and after feeds us with his own body. As 
the soul is the most excellent thing in the world, so he hath provided for 
it the most excellent ornaments. It hath food and ornaments proportion- 
able. "V\rhat love is this, that he should feed our souls with his own body, 
and clothe us with his own righteousness ! ' He loved me,' saith Paul, 
Gal. ii. 20. What was the efl'ect of his love ? ' He gave himself for me.' 
He gave himself, both that we might have a righteousness to clothe us with 
in the sight of God, and he gave himself that he might be the bread of life, 
' My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed,' John Ti. 55. 
The guilty, the self-accusing soul feeds upon Christ dying for its sins. 
Again, Rev. i. 6, you have his love set forth, ' He loved us ; ' and how doth 
he witness it ? ' He hath washed us with his own blood, and hath made 
us kings, and priests, &c. The like you have, ' He loved us, and gave 
himself a sweet sacrifice to God for us,' Eph. v. 2. When this world is at 
an end, we shall see what his love is. He is not satisfied till we be all in 
one place. What doth he pray for to his Father ? ' Father, I will that 
those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am,' &c., John xvii. 24. 
Run through all the whole course of salvation, election, vocation, justifica- 
tion, glorification, you shall see his love in all of them. But it were an 
infinite argument to follow to shew the love of Christ, which is beyond aU 
knowledge, Eph. iii. 19 ; and it is too large for us to know all the dimen- 
sions of it, to see the height, breadth, depth, and length of it, which we 
should ever think, speak, and meditate of, because the soul is then in the 
most fit temper to serve, love, and glorify God, when it is most apprehen- 
sive of his gi'eat love. 

1. This phrase imports divers things. 1. That there is no savinr/ love to 
any out of the church, which is his love. It is, as it were, confined in the 
church, as if all the beams of his love met in that centre, as we see when 
the beams of the sun meet in a glass, they burn, because many are there 
united. So in the church all his love doth meet. 

2. Then the church is his love also, because whatsoever she hath or hojyes 
for is from his love, and is nothing but his love. The church, as it is a 

church, is nothing but the love of Christ. That there is a church so en- 
dowed, so graced, so full of the hope of glory, it is out of his love. 

And for the properties of it. (1.) It is Vifree love, a preventing love. He 
loved us before ever we could love him. He loved us when we resisted 
him, and were his enemies. 

(2.) It is a most tender love, as you have it in Isa. xlix. 15, ' Can a mother 
forget her sucking child ? If she should, yet will not I forget thee. Thou 
art written on the palms of my hands,' &c. He hath us in his heart, in his 
eye, in his hand, in a mother's heart, and beyond it. He hatha tender eye 
and a powerful hand to maintain his church. Dent, xxxiii. 3. 

(3.) It is a most transcendent and careful love. All comparisons are under it. 

(4.) And it is a most intimale invincible love, that nothing could quench it. 


As we see here tlie church droopeth, and had many infirmities, yet she ia 
Christ's love. So that the love of Christ is a kind of love that is uncon- 
querable ; no water will ever quench it ; no sin of ours ; no infirmity. So 
as it is very comfortable that the church considered under infirmities is yet 
the love of Christ. ' I sleep, but my heart waketh,' yet Christ comes with 
* My love, my dove,' &c. 

Quest. But what, cannot Christ see matter of weakness, sinfulness, hatred, 
and dislike in the church ? 

Ans. Oh yes, to pity, help, and bsal it, but not at all to diminish his 
love, but to manifest it so much the more. His love is a tender love, sen- 
sible of all things wherewith we displease him, yet it is so invincible and 
unconquerable, that it overcomes all. Again, he sees ill indeed in us, but 
he sees in us some good of his own also, which moves him more to love, 
than that that is ill in us, moves him to hate. For what he sees of ours, 
he sees with a purpose to vanquish, mortify, and eat it out. The Spirit is 
as fire to consume it. He is as water to wash it. But what he sees of his 
own, he sees with a purpose to increase it more and more, and to perfect it. 
Therefore he says, ' my love,' notwithstanding that the church was asleep. 

Use. This therefore serves greatly for our comfort, to search what good 
Christ by his Spirit hath wrought in our hearts ; what faith, what love, 
what sanctified judgment, what fire of holy afi'ections to him, and to the 
best things. let us value ourselves by that that is good, that Christ hath 
in us. We are Christ's love notwithstanding we are sleepy. If we be dis- 
pleased with this our state ; that as Christ dislikes it, so if we by the Spirit 
dislike it, the matter is not what sin we have in us, but how we are affected 
to it. Have we that ill in us, which is truly the grief of our hearts and 
souls, which as Christ dislikes, so we abhor it, and would be purged, and 
rid of it ; and it is the grief of our hearts and souls, that we cannot be 
better, and more lovely in Christ's eye ! then let us not be discouraged. 
For Christ esteems of his church highly, even as his very love, even at that 
tirpe when she was sleepy ; and may teach us in time of temptation not to- 
hearken to Satan, who then moves us to look altogether upon that which is 
naught in us, thereby to abate our love to Christ, and our appi'ehension of 
his to us. For he knows if we be sensible of the love of Christ to us, we 
shall love him again. For love is a kind of fire, an active quality, which 
will set us about glorifying God, and pulling down Satan's kingdom. As 
we say in nature, fire doth all ; (what work almost can a man work without 
fire, by which all instruments are made and heated? &c.). So grace doth all 
with love. God first doth manifest to our souls his love to us in Christ, 
and quicken us by his Spirit, witnessing his love to us, wherewith he warms 
our hearts, kindles and inflames them so with love, that vv^e love him again; 
which love hath a constraining, sweet violence to put us upon all duties, to suft'er, 
to do, to resist anything. If a man be in love with Christ, what will be harsh 
to him in the world ? The devil knows this well enough ; therefore one of 
his main engines and temptations is to weaken our hearts in the sense of 
God's love and of Christ's. Therefore let us be as wise for our souls as he- 
is subtle, and politic against them ; as watchful for our ovvm comfort, as he 
is to discomfort us, and make us despair. Let us be wise to gather all the- 
arguments of Christ's love that we can. 

Quest. But how shall we know that Christ loves us in this peculiar manner? 

Ans. 1. First, search what course he takes and hath taken to draw thee- 
nearer unto him. 'He chastiseth every one that he loveth,' Heb. xii. 6. 
Seasonable corections sanctified, is a sign of Christ's love ; when he will 

CaKT. V. 2. J * MY LOVE.' 75 

not suflfer us to thrive in sin ; when we cannot speak nor do amiss ; but 
either ho lasheth us in our conscience for it, and by his Spirit checks us, 
or else stirs up others, one thing or other to make us out of love with sin. 

2. Again, we may gather Christ's love by this, if we have ami lore to 
divine things, and can set a great price tipon the best things : upon the word, 
because it is Christ's word ; upon grace, prizing the imago of Christ, and 
the new creature. "When we can set an high value upon communion with 
Christ, the sense of his love in our hearts, and all spiritual prerogatives and 
excellencies above all things, this is an excellent argument of Christ's love 
to us. Our love is but a reflection of his ; and therefore if we have love to 
anything that is good, we have it from him first. If a wall that is cold 
become hot, we say, the sun of necessity must shine on it first, because it 
is nothing but cold stone of itself. So if our hearts, that are naturally 
cold, be heated with the love of divine things, certainly we may say, Christ 
hath shined here first; for naturally our hearts are of a cold temper. There 
is no such thing as spiritual love growing in our natures and hearts. 

You have many poor souls helped with this, who cannot tell whether 
Christ love them or no ; but this helps them a little, they can find undoubted 
arguments of their love to Christ, his image, and servants, and of relishing 
the word, though they find much corruption : and this their love to divine 
things tells them by demonstrations from the efiects, that Christ loves them, 
because there is no love to divine and supernatural things without the love 
of Christ first. And the graces in our hearts, thej' are love tokens given to 
the spouse. Common favours he gives, as Abraham gifts to his servants 
and others, but special gifts to his spouse. If therefore there be any grace, 
a tender and soft heart, a prizing of heavenly things, love to God's people 
and truth, then we may comfortably conclude Christ loves us; not only be- 
cause they are reflections of God's love, but because they are jewels and 
ornaments that Christ only bestows upon his spouse ; and not upon re- 
probates, such precious jewels as these, John xv. 15. 

3. Bij discovering his secrets to lis, Ps. xxv. 14, for that is an argument of love. 
Doth Christ by his Spirit discover the secret love he hath borne to us before 
all worlds ? Doth he discover the breast of his Father, and his own heart to 
us? This discovery of secret afi'ections, of entire love, shewetb our happy 
state. For that is one prerogative of fi-iendship, and the chicfcst discovery 
of secrets, when he gives us a particular right to truths, as our own, that 
we can go challenge them, these are mine, these belong to me, these pro- 
mises are mine. This discoveiy of the secret love of God, and of the 
interests we have in the promises, is a sign that Christ loves us, and that 
in a peculiar manner we are his love. 

Use 1. Let us be like our blessed Saviour, that where we see any saving 
goodness in any, let us love them ; for should not our love meet with our 
Saviour's love ? Shall the church of God be the love of Christ, and shall it 
be our hatred ? Shall a good Christian be Christ's love, and shall he be 
the object of my hatred and scorn ? Can we imitate a better pattern ? 
let us never think our estate to be good, except every child of God be our 
love as he is Christ's love. Can I love Christ, and cannot I love * him in 
whom I Bee Christ ? It is a sign that I hate himself, when I hate his 
image. It is to be wondered at that the devil hath prevailed with any so 
much, as to think they should be in a good estate, when they have hearts rising 
against the best people, and who, as they grow in gi-ace, so they gi-ow in 
then- disUke of them. Is here the Spirit of Christ ? 
* That is, ' can I not love' — Ed. 


Use 2. And let tliem likewise be here reproved that are glad to see any Chris- 
tian halt, slip, and go awry. The best Christians in the world have that 
in part, which is wholly in another man ; he hath flesh in him. Shall we 
utterly distaste a Christian for that ? The church was now in a sleepy con- 
dition, and yet, notwithstanding, Christ takes not the advantage of the 
weakness of the church to cashier, -= and to hate her, but he pities her the 
more, and takes a course to bring her again into a good state and condition. 
Let us not therefore be glad at the infirmities and failings of any, that dis- 
cover any true goodness in them. It may be our own case ere long. It 
casts them not out of Christ's love, but they dwell in his love still ; why 
should we then cast them out of our love and affections ? Let them be our 
loves till, as they are the love cf Christ, notwithstanding their infirmities. 


My love, my dove, my uiv>'.cjiled : for my head is Jillecl ivitli dew, and my locks 
with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat ; how shall I put it on ? 
I have washed my feet ; and how shall I defile them ? — Cant. V. 2, 3. 

That the life of a Christian is a perpetual conflicting, appears evidently iu 
this book, the passages whereof, joined with our own experiences, suffi- 
ciently declare what combats, trials, and temptations the saints are subject 
unto, after their new birth and change of life ; now up, now down, now 
full of good resolutions, now again sluggish and slow, not to be waked, nor 
brought forward by the voice of Christ, as it was with the church here. 
She will not out of her sleep to open unto Christ, though he call, and knock, 
and stand waiting for entrance. She is now desirous to pity herself, and 
needs no Peter to stir her up unto it (r/). The flesh of itself is prone 
enough to draw back, and make excuses, to hinder the power of grace 
from its due operation in us. She is laid along, as it were, to rest her ; yet 
is not she so asleep, but she discerns the voice of Christ. But up and rise 
she will not. 

Thus we may see the truth of that speech of om- Saviour verified, ' That 
which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spi- 
rit," John iii. 6. The flesh pulls her back : the Spirit would raise her up to 
open to Christ. He in the meanwhile makes her inexcusable, and pre- 
pares her by his knocking, waiting, and departing ; as for a state of fur- 
ther humiliation, so for an estate of further exaltation. But how lovingly 
doth he speak to her ! 

1. ' Open unto me, my love.' He calls her ra-y love, especially for two 
respects ; partly because his love ivas settled upon her. It was in his own 
breast, but it rested not there, but seated itself upon, and in the heart of 
his spouse, so that she became Christ's love. We know the heart of a 
lover is more where it loves than where it lives, as we use to speak ; and 
indeed, there is a kind of a going out, as it were, to the thing beloved, with 
a heedlessness of all other things. Where the affection is in any excess, it 
carries the whole soul with it. 

2. But, besides this, when Christ saith my love, he shews, that as his 
love goes, and plants, and seats itself in the church, so it is united to that, 
and is not scattered to other objects. There are beams of God's general love 
scattered in the whole world ; but this love, this exceeding love, is only fas- 

* That is, ' dismiss.' — G. 

Cant. V. 2, 8.] ♦ my love.' 77 

tened upon the church. And, indeed, there is no love comparable to this 
love of Christ, which is above the love of women, of father, or mother, if 
we consider what course he takes to shew it. For there could be nothing 
in the world so great to discover his love, as this gift, and gift of himself. 
And therefore he gave himself, the best thing in heaven or in earth withal, 
to shew his love. The Father gave him, when he was God equal witl his 
Father. He loved his church, and gave himself for it. How could he dis- 
cover his love better, than to take our nature to shew how he loved us ? 
How could he come nearer to us, than by being incarnate, so to be bone 
of our bone, and flesh of our flesh ; and took our nature to shew how he 
loved it, Eph. v. 30. Love draws things nearer wheresoever it is. It drew 
him out of heaven to the womb of the virgin, there to be incarnate ; and, 
after that, when he was born not only to be a man, but a miserable man, 
because we could not be his spouse unless he purchased us by his death. 
We must be his spouse by a satisfaction made to divine justice. God 
would not give us to him, but with salving* his justice. "What sweet love is 
it to heal us not by searing, or lancing, but by making a plaster of his own 
blood, which he shed for those that shed his, in malice and hatred. What 
a wondrous love is it, that he should pour forth tears for those that 
shed his blood! ' Jerusalem, Jerusalem,' &c.. Mat. xxiii. 37 ; that he 
prayed for those that persecuted him, Luke xxiii. 34 ; and what wondrous 
love is it now that he sympathiseth with us in heaven, accounting the 
harm that is done to the least member he hath, as done to himself! ' Saul, 
Saul, why persecutest thou me ?' Acts ix. 4, and that he should take us 
into one body with himself, to make one Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 27. And he 
doth not content himself with anything he can do for us here, but his de- 
sire is, that we may be one with him more and more, and be for ever with 
him in the heavens, as you have it in that excellent prayer, John xvii. 24. 

Use 1. Now this should stir us up to be fully permadecl of his love, that 
Mves us so imich. Christ's love in us, is as the loadstone to the iron. Our 
hearts are heavy and downwards of themselves. We may especially know 
his love by this, that it draws us upwards, and makes us heavenly minded. 
It makes us desire further and further communion with him. StiU there 
is a magnetical attractive force in Christ's love. Wheresoever it is, it 
draws the heart and afiections after it. 

Use 2. And we may know fi'om hence one argument to prove the stahUity 
of the saints, and the immortality of the sold, because Christ calls the church 
his love. The want of love again, where it is entire, and in any great mea- 
sure, is a misery. Christ therefore should suffer, if those he hath planted his 
love upon, whom he loves truly, either should fall away for ever, or should 
not be immortal for ever. Christ will not lose his love. And as it is an 
argument of persevering in grace, so is it of an everlasting being, that this 
soul of ours hath ; because it is capable of the love of Christ, seeing there 
is a sweet union and communion between Christ and the soul. It should 
make Christ miserable, as it were, in heaven, the place of happiness, if 
there should not be a meeting of him and his spouse. There must there- 
fore be a meeting ; which marriage is fur ever, that both may be for ever 
happy one in another, Hos. ii. 20. 

Use 3. Let us often uann our hearts nith the consideration hereof, because all 

our love isfnmi this love of his. Oh the wonderful love of God, that both such 

transcendent majesty, and such an infinite love should dwell together. We 

say majesty and love never dwell together, because love is an abasing of the 

* Tliat is, ' preserving.' — G. 


soul to all services. But herein it is false, for here majesty and love dwell 
together in the heart of one Christ, which majesty hath stooped as low as 
his almighty power could give leave. Nay, it was an almighty power that 
he could stoop so low and yet be God, keeping his majesty still. For God 
to beeome man, to hide his majesty for awhile, not to be kno^vn to be God, 
and to hide so far in this natiu'e as to die for us : what an ahnighty power was 
this, that could go so low and yet preserve himself God still ! Yet this we see 
in this our blessed Saviour, the greatest majesty met with the greatest 
abasement that ever was, and all out of love to our poor souls. There was 
no stooping, no abasement that was ever so low as Christ was abased unto 
us, to want for a time even the comfort of the presence of his Father. 
There was an union of grace ; but the union of solace and comfort that he 
had fi-om him was suspended for a time, out of love to us. For he had a 
right in his own person to be in heaven presently. Now for him to live 
so long out of heaven, and ofttimes, especially towards his suffering, to be 
without that solace (that he might be a sacrifice for our sins), to have it 
suspended for a time, what a condescending was this ? It is said, Ps. cxiii. 
6, that God stoops ' to behold the things done here below.' It is indeed a 
wondrous condescending, that God will look upon things below ; but that 
he would become man, and out of love to save us, sufi"er as he did here, 
this is wondi'ous humility to astonishment ! We think humility is not a 
proper grace becoming the majesty of God. So it is not indeed, but there 
is some resemblance of that grace in God, especially in Chiist, that he 
should, to reveal himself, veil himself with flesh, and all out of love to us. 
The consideration of these things are wondrous efiectual, as to strengthen 
faith, so to kindle love. Let these be for a taste to'du-ect our meditations 
herein. It follows, 

' My dove.' We know when Christ was baptized, the Holy Ghost 
appeax'ed in the shape of a dove. Mat. iii. 16, as a symbol of his presence, 
to discover thus much: (1.) That Christ should have the properttj and dis- 
position of a dove. 'And be meek and gentle.' For indeed he became man 
for that end, to be 'a merciful Saviour.' ' Learn of me, for I am meek 
and lowly,' Mat. si. 28, 29. ' And I will not quench the smoking flax, nor 
break the bruised reed,' &c.. Mat. xii. 20, said he ; and therefore the 
Spirit appeared upon him in the shape of a dove. As likewise, (2.) To 
shew what his office should be. For even as the dove in Noah's ark was 
sent out, and came home again to the ark with an olive branch, to shew 
that the waters were abated ; so Christ was to preach deliverance from 
the deluge of God's anger, and to come with an olive leaf of peace in his 
mouth, and reconciliation, to shew that God's wTath was appeased. \Vhen 
he was born, the angels sung, ' Glory to God on high, on earth peace, and 
goodwill towards men,' Luke ii. 14. Now, as Christ had the Spii'it in the 
likeness of a dove ; so all that are Christ's, the spouse of Christ, have the 
disposition of Christ. That Spirit that framed him to be like a dove, 
frames the church to be a dove ; as the ointment that was poured on Aaron's 
head : it ran down upon the lowest skuis of his garments, Ps. cxxxiii. 3. 

Now, the church is compared to a dove, partly for the disposition that is 
and should he in the church resembling that creature; and partly, also, for 
that the church is in a mournful suffering condition. 

I. For the like disposition as is found in a dove. There is some good 
in all creatures. There is no creature but it hath a beam of God's majesty, 
of some attribute ; but some more than others. There is an image of 
virtue even in the inferior creatures. "WTierefore the Scripture sends us to 

Cant. V. 2, 3.] • mr dove,* 79 

■them for many virtues, as the skiggard to the ant, Prov. vi. G. And indeed 
we may see the true perfection of the first creation, the state of it, more 
in the creatures than in ourselves ; for there is no such degeneration in any 
creature as there is in man. 

Now, that which in a dove the Scripture aims at, 1, we should resemble 
a dove in is, his meekness especially. The church is meek both to God and 
man, not given to murmurings and revengement. Meek : that is, ' I held 
my tongue without murmuring,' as it is in the psalm ; ' I was dumb,' &c., 
Ps. xxxix. 2 : which is a grace that God's Spirit frames in the heart of the 
church, and every particular Christian, even to be meek towards God by 
an holy silence ; and likewise towards men, to put on the ' bowels of meek- 
ness,' as we are exhorted, ' As the elect of God, put on the bowels of meek- 
ness and compassion,' &c.. Col. iii. 12. Hereby we shall shew ourselves 
to be Christ's, and to have the Spirit of Christ. And this grace disposeth 
us to a nearer communion with God than other graces. It is a grace that 
God most delights in, and would have his spouse to bo adoi-ned with, as is 
shewed, 1 Pet. iii. 4, where the apostle tells women, it is the best jewel 
and ornament that they can wear, and is with God of gi-eat price. Moses, 
we read, was a mighty man in prayer, and a special means to help and fit him 
thereunto, was because he was the meekest man on earth, Num. xii. 3; and 
therefore, ' seek the Lord, seek meekness,' Zeph. ii. 3; and it fits a man for 
communion with God, 'for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the 
meek and humble,' 1 Pet. v. 5. It is a grace that empties the soul of self- 
conceit, to think a man's self unworthy of anj-thing, and so makes it capacious, 
low, and fit for God to fill with a larger measure of his Spirit. It takes 
away the roughness and swelling of the soul, that keeps out God and grace. 
Therefore in that grace we must especially be like this meek creature, which 
is no vindictive creature, that hath no way to revenge itself. 

Again, 2, it is a simple creature, nithout guile. It hath no way to defend 
itself, but only by flight. There is a simpUcity that is sinful, when there 
is no mixture of wisdom in it. There is a simplicity, that is, a pure sim- 
plicity ; and so God is simple, which simphcity of God is the ground of 
many other attributes. For thereupon he is eternal, because there is no- 
thing contrary in him ; there is no mixture in him of anything opposite. 
So that is a good simplicity in us, when there is no mixture of fi-aud, no 
duplicity in the soul. ' A double-hearted man is inconstant and unstable 
in all his ways,' James i. 8. Now simphcity, as it is a virtue, so we must 
imitate the dove in it ; for there is a sinful, dove-like silliness. For, 
Hos. vii. 11, Ephraim is said there to be ' like a silly dove without heart; 
they call to Egypt, they go to Ass}T.-ia.' There is a fatal simplicity, 
usually going before destruction, when we hate those that defend us, and 
account them enemies, and rely more upon them that are enemies indeed 
than upon friends. So it was with Ephraim before his destruction : * He 
was a silly dove without heart ; he called to Egypt, and went to Assyiia,' 
false friends, that were enemies to the church of God ; yet they trusted 
them more than God or the prophets. Men have a world of tricks to un- 
dermine their friends, to ruin them, and to deserve ill of those that would 
with all their hearts deserve well of them, when yet in the mean tune they 
can gi'atify the enemy, please them, and hold correspondence with them, 
as here Ephraim did, ' Ephraim is a silly dove,' &c. This, therefore, is 
not that which we must aim at, but to be simple and children concerning 
evil, but not in ignorance and simplicity that way. 

3. Again, this creature is a faithful creature. That is mainly here aimed 


at. It is faithful to the mate. So the Christian soul, by the Spirit of God 
it is made faithful to Christ, it keeps the judgment chaste, is not tainted 
with errors and sins. He keeps his affections chaste likewise, sets nothing 
in his heart above Christ. _ ' Whom hath he in heaven but him, and what 
is there in earth he desires beside him ?' Ps. Ixxiii. 25. You know in the 
Revelation, the spouse of Christ is brought in like a \'irgin contracted, hut 
the Romish Church like a whore. Therefore the church of God must take 
heed of the Roman Church, for that is not a dove. We must be virgins, 
who must keep chaste souls to Christ, as you have it — ' Those that follow 
the Lamb wheresoever he goeth, they have not defiled themselves with 
women,' Rev. xiv. 4. The meaning is spiritual, namely, that they have 
not defiled themselves with idolatry and spiritual fornication ; they have 
chaste hearts to Christ. So in this respect they resemble the dove. These, 
therefore, that draw away from the love of religion to mixture, to be mere- 
trices* and harlots in religion, they are not Christ's doves. As far as they 
yield to this, it is an argument that they have false hearts. Christ's church 
is a dove. She keeps close and inviolate to him. 

4. Again, this creature is of a neatf disposition. It will not lodge where it 
shall be troubled with stench, and annoyed that way ; and likewise feeds 
neatly on pure grain ; not upon carrion, as you see in the ark, when the 
raven was sent out it lights upon carrion, of which there was then plenty, 
and therefore never came into the ark again. Gen. viii. 7. But the 
dove, when she went out, would not light upon carrion or dead things ; 
and so finding no fit food, came back again to the ark. So the Christian 
soul in this respect is like a dove, that will not feed upon worldly carrion, 
or sinful pleasures, but upon Christ and spiritual things. The soul of a 
carnal and a natural man useth to feed upon dust, earth and earthly things. 
When the soul of a true Christian, that hath the taste of grace, feeds 
neatly, it will not feed on that which is base and earthly, but upon heavenly 
and spiritual things. 

5. It is [/rer/aria avis, a bird that loves communion and fellowship, as the 
prophet speaks, ' Who are those that flock to the windows as doves,' Isa. 
Ix. 8 ; for so they use to flock to their houses by companies. So the chil- 
dren of God love the communion and fellowship one of another, and keep 
severed from the world as soon as ever they are separated from it, delight- 
ing in all those of the same nature. Doves will consort with doves. Chris- 
tians with Christians, and none else. They can relish no other company 
These and such like properties may profitably be considered of the dove. 
The much standing upon these were to ^vl•ong the intendment! of the Spirit 
of God ; to neglect them altogether were as much. Therefore we have 
touched upon some properties only. 

II. 'Now, for the sufferings of the church it is like a dove in this. 21ie 
dove is molested hij all the birds of prey, it being the common prey of all 
other ravenous birds. So the poor church of God is persecuted and 
molested. * Oh that I had wings like a dove,' &c., saith holy David, 
Ps. Iv. 6. It is an old speech, and is for ever tnie, that crows and such, 
escape better than doves. The punishment that should light on ravens, oft- 
times it lights on doves. Thus God's dove, God's church, is used. 
But what defence hath God's poor church ? Why, no defence. But, 
First, /light, even as the dove hath nothing but flight. It hath no 
talons to wound, but it hath flight. So we are to fly to God as to our 
mountain ; fly to the ark, that God may take us in. The church of God 
* That is, 'courtezans.'' — G. f That is, 'cleanly.' — G. $ That is, 'design.' — G 

Cant. V. 2, 3.] ' my undefiled.' 81 

hath no other refuge but to be housed in God and Christ, Prov. xviii. 10. 
He is our ark. 

Secondly, and to mourn; as Hezekiah saith of himself, *He mourned 
as a dove, and chattered like a crane,' Isa. xxxviii. 14. The state of the 
church of God is like the turtle's, to mourn in all afflictions, desertions, 
and molestations of wicked men ; to mourn to God, who hears the be- 
moanings of his own Spirit in them. And woe to all other birds, the 
birds of prey, when the turtles do mourn because of their cruelty. It is a 
presage of ruin to them, when they force the turtle to sorrow and mourning. 

Thirdly, And then, thirdly, they have another refage besides flight and 
mourning, which is to build high from vermin that would otherwise molest them. 
Listinct teacheth them thus to escape their enemies by building high, and 
so to secui-e themselves. So there is in God's children a gracious instinct 
put, an antipathy to the enemies of it ; which tends to their safety, in that 
they mingle not themselves with them. And likewise God breeds in them 
a familiarity with himself, and stirs them to build in him as on a rock, to 
be safe in him. 

Objec. But you will object. If the chm'ch of God be his dove, why is it so 
with it as it is, that God should suffer his love, and his dove, and his turtle 
thus as it were to be preyed upon ? ' Give not the soul of the turtle to the 
beasts,' saith the psalmist, Ps. Ixxiv. 19. If the church were God's dove, he 
would esteem more of it than he doth, and not suffer it to be persecuted thus ? 

Ans. God never forsakes his dove, but is an ark for it to fly to, a rock 
for it to build on. The dove hath always a refuge in God and in Christ 
in the worst times. You have a notable place for this, ' Though you have 
lien among the pots,' that is, smeared and sullied, ' yet they shall be as 
the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. 
When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as the snow in 
Salmon,' Ps. lx\-iii. 13, 11:. So though the church of God lies among the potg 
av/hile, all smeared, and soiled, and sullied with the ill-usage of the world, 
yet as long as it keeps itself a dove, unspotted of the filth of the world and 
sin (though it be smeared with the ill-usage thereof), we see what God pro- 
miseth here, ' yet shall they be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, 
and her feathers with yellow gold.' So God will bring forth his dove with 
glory out of all these abasements at length. So much for the title of dove. 
It follows, 

' My undefiled.' Undefiled is a high word to be applied to the church 
of God here ; for the church, groaning under infirmities, to be counted 
perfect and imdefiled. But Christ, who judgeth aright of his church, and 
knows best what she is, he yet thus judgeth of her. But, how is that ? 
The chm'ch is imdefiled, especially in that it is the spouse of Christ, and 
clothed uith the robes of his righteousness. For there is an exchange so 
soon as ever we are united to Christ. Our sins are upon him, and his 
righteousness is made ours ; and therefore in Christ the church is un- 
defiled. Christ himself the second person is the first lovely thing next the 
Father ; and in Christ all things as they have relation to him arc loved, as 
they are in him. Christ's human nature is next loved to the second person. 
It is united, and is first pm-e, holy, and beloved. Then, because the 
church is Christ mystical, it is near to him ; and, in a manner, as near as 
that sacred body of his, both making up one Christ mystical. And so is 
amiable and beloved even of God himself, who hath pure eyes ; yet in this 
respect looks upon the church as undefiled. 

Christ and his chm'ch arc not to be considered as two when we speai 



of this undefiledness, but as one. And the church having Christ, with all 
that is Christ's, they have the field, and the pearl* in the field together. 
And Christ giving himself to the church, he gives his righteousness, his 
perfection, and holiness ; aU is the church's. 

Quest. But how can it be the church's, when it is not in the church, but 
in Christ ? 

Ans. It is safe for the church that it is in Christ, who is perfect and un- 
defiled for us ; to make us appear so. And so it is in Christ, the second 
Adam, for our good. It is not in him as another person, but it is in him 
as the church's Head, that make both one Christ. The hand and 
the foot see not ; but both hand and foot have benefit by the eye, that 
sees for them. There is no member of the body understands, but the 
head does all for them. Put the case we have not absolute righteousness 
and undefiledness in our own natures and persons inhering in us. Yet we 
have it in Christ, that is one with us, who hath it for our good. It is 
ours, for all the comfort and good that we may have by it ; and thereupon 
the church in Christ is undefiled ; yea, even then when it feels its own 
defilements. And here ariseth that wondrous contradiction that is found 
in a believer's apprehension. The nature of faith is to apprehend right- 
eousness in the sense of sin, happiness in the sense of misery, and favour 
in the sense of displeasure. 

And the ground of it is, because that at the same time the soul may be 
in some measure defiled in itself, and yet notmthstanding be undefiled in 
her head and husband Christ. Hence the guilty soul, when it feels corrup- 
tion and sin, yet notwithstanding doth see itself holy and clean in Christ 
the head. Ajid so at once there is a conscience of sin, and no more con- 
science of sin, as Ihe apostle saith, Heb. x. 2, when we believe in Christ, 
and are purged with his blood, that is, there is no more guilt of sin bind- 
ing over to eternal damnation, jei notwithstanding always there is a con- 
science of sin, for we are guilty of infinnities, ' And if we say we have no 
sin, we lie, and deceive ourselves, 1 John i. 8. 

Ohj. But, how can this be, that there should be conscience of sin, and 
no conscience of sin, a sinner, and yet a perfect saint and undefiled ? 

Ans. 1. The conscience hnows its own imperfection, so it is defiled, and accuseth 
of sin. And as it looks to Christ, so Usees itself pure, and purged from all sin. 
Here is the conquest, fight, and the victory of faith in the deepest sense of 
sin, pollution, and defilement in ourselves, at the same time to see an abso- 
lute and perfect righteousness in Jesus Christ. Herein is even the triumph 
of faith, whereby it answers God. And Christ, who sees our imperfections, 
but it is to purge and cleanse them away, not to damn us for them, at the 
same time he sees us in his own love clothed with his righteousness, as one 
with himself, endowed with whatsoever he hath ; his satisfaction and obe- 
dience being ours as verily as anything in the world is. Thus he looks on 
us, and thus faith looks upon him too, and together with the sight and sense 
of sin, at the same time it apprehends righteousness, perfect righteousness, 
and so is undefiled. This is the main point in religion, and the comfort of 
Christians, to see their perfection in Chi'ist Jesus, and to be lost in them- 
selves, as it were, and to be only ' found in him, not having their own 
righteousness, but the righteousness of God in him,' Phil. iii. 9. This is 
a mystery which none knows but a believing soul. None see corruption 
more, none see themselves freed more. They have an inward sight to see 
corruption, and an inwai'd faith to see God takes not advantage at it. And 
* That is, ' treasure.' See Mat. xiii. 44. — G. 

Cant ^'■. 2.] * my undefiled.' 83 

surely there can be no greater honour to Christ than this. In the sense of 
sin, of wants, imperfections, stains, and blemishes, yet to wrap ourselves 
in the righteousness of Christ, God-man; and by faith , being thus covered 
with that absolute righteousness of Christ, with boldness to go, clothed in 
the garments of this our elder brother, to the throne of grace. This is an 
honour to Christ, to attribute so much to his righteousness, that being 
clothed therewith, we can boldly break through the fire of God's justice, 
and all those terrible attributes, when wo see them all, as it were, satisfied 
fuUy'in Christ. For Christ, with his righteousness, could go through the 
justice of God, having satisfied it to the full for us. And wo being 
clothed with this his righteousness and satisfaction, may go through too. 

Ans. 2. But besides that, there is another undefiledness in the church, in re- 
spect to which she is called undefiled, that is, injniritij of disposition, tendiiir/ to 
j)e>fection. And God respects her according to her better part, and accord- 
ing to what he will bring her in due time. For we are chosen unto perfec- 
tion, and to be holy in his sight ; and perfectly holy, undefiled, and pure. 
We are not chosen to weak beginnings. 

In choosing us, what did God aim at ? Did he aim at these imperfect 
beginnings, to rest there ? No; we were elected and chosen to perfection. 
For, as it is in this natural life, God purposed that we should not only 
have all the limbs of men, but grow from infancy to activeness and perfec- 
tion. As God at fii'st intended so much for our bodies, no question he 
intends as much also for the soul, that we should not only have the linea- 
ments of Christianity, a sanctified judgment, with affections in part renewed, 
but he hath chosen us to perfection by degi'ees. As the seed first lies rotting 
in the ground, then gi'ows to a stalk, and then to an ear, so God's wisdom 
shines here, by bringing things by degrees to perfection and undefiledness. 
His wisdom will have it thus (or else his power might have it otherwise), 
because he will have us to live by faith, to trust his mercy in Christ, and 
not to the undefiledness that is begun in us, but to admire that which we 
have in Christ himself. 

And, indeed, it is the character of a judicious believing Christian soul, 
that he can set a price and value the righteousness of Christ, out of himself, 
labouring, living, and dying to appear in that; and yet to comfort and sus- 
tain himself during this conflict and fight between the flesh and the Spirit, 
that in time this inherent grace shall be brought to perfection. 

And Christ, he looks upon us as he means to perfect the work of grace 
in us by little and little, as he means to purge and cleanse us, as Eph. 
v. 26, 27. The end of redemption is, that he might purge his church, 
and so never leave it till he have made it ' a glorious spouse in heaven.' 
He looks upon us as we shall be ere long, and therefore we are said ' to 
bo dead to sin,' while we are but dying to it. And, saith he, ' you have 
cnicified the flesh with the affections, and lusts thereof,' Gal. v. 24, when 
we are but crucifying it. But it is said so because it is as sure to be done 
as if it were done already. As a man, when he is condemned, and going 
to his execution, he is a dead man, so there is a sentence passed upon sin and 
corruption. It shall be abolished and die. Therefore it is dead in sen- 
tence, and is dying in execution. It is done ; ' They that are in Christ 
have crucified the flesh, with the lusts thereof,' Gal. v. 24. It is as sure 
to faith as if it were done already. So we are said ' to sit in heavenly places 
with Christ,' Eph. ii. G. We are with him abeady. For Christ having 
taken us so near in affection to himself, he will never leave us till he have 
iQade us such as he may have full contentment in, which is in heaven. 


when the contract between Mm and us shall be fulfilled in consummation 
of the marriage. Thus faith looks, and Christ looks thus upon us. Which 
should comfort us in weakness, that God regards us not in our present im- 
perfections, but as he means to make us ere long. In the mean time, that 
he may look upon us in love, he looks upon us in the obedience of his son^ 
in whom whatsoever is good shall be perfected at the last. 

Use 1. What should we do then, if Christ doth make his church thus, 
' his love,' ' his dove,' ' his undefiled,' by making his love to meet in it as 
the centre thereof, whereunto he doth confine aU his love, as it were ? We 
should confine our love to him again; and have no love out of Christ, since 
he hath no love out of us. There should be an everlasting mutual shining 
and reflection between him and the soul. We should lay open our souls 
to his love, as indeed he desires especially the communion of our affections. 
We should reflect love to him again. This perpetual everlasting intercourse 
between Christ and his spouse, is her main happiness here, and her eternal 
happiness in heaven. In looking on him who hath done so much for us, 
he shines on us, and we look back again upon him. Doth Christ love us 
so intimately, and so invincibly, that no indignities nor sin could overcome 
his love, which made, that he endured that which he hates most, ' to become 
sin for us,' 2 Cor. v. 21, nay, the want of that, which was more to him 
than all the world, the want of the sense of the favour of God for a time. 
' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' Hath Christ thus in- 
finitely loved us, and shall not we back again make him our love ? In their 
degree the saints of God have all done so. It was a good speech of Igna- 
tius the martyr, ' My love Chi-ist was crucified ! ' (A) So a Christian should 
say, ' My love was crucified,' ' My love died,' ' My love is in heaven.' And 
for the things on earth, I love them as they have a beam of him in them ; 
as they lead me to him. But he is my love, there my love is pitched, even 
upon him. This is the gi-ound of these Scripture phrases, ' But our con- 
versation is in heaven, from whence we look for the Sa-vdour, the Lord Jesus 
Christ,' &c., Phil. iii. 20 ; and ' set youi- afiections on the things that are 
above,' Col. iii. 1. AVhy ? Christ our love is there. The soul is more 
where it loves, than where its residence is. It dies, as it were, to other 
things, and lives in the thing it loves. Therefore our thoughts and affec- 
tions, our joy and delight should be dravm up to Christ ; for indeed his 
love hath such a magnetical attractive force, that where it is, it vrill draw 
up the heavy iron, the gross soul ; and make it heavenly. For there is a 
binding, a drawing force in this excellent affection of love. 

Use 2. ' My love, my dove,' &c. There are all icords of sweetness. He 
labours to express all the affection he can. For the conscience is subject 
to upbraid, and to clamour much. So that there must be a great deal of 
persuasion to still the accusing conscience of a sinner, to set it down, make 
it quiet, and persuade it of God's love. Therefore he useth all heavenly 
rhetoric to persuade and move the affections. 

Use 3. In this that the church is undefiled in Christ, let us learn when 
afflicted in conscience, not so much to judge of ourselves by what ice feel in 
ourselves, as by what faith suggests. In Christ therefore let us judge of our- 
selves by what we are as in him. We are poor in ourselves, but have riches 
in him. We die in ourselves in regard of this life, but we have a life in 
him, an eternal life ; and we are sinners in ourselves, but we have a 
righteousness in him whereby we are righteous in his sight, 1 Cor. v. 21. 
We are foolish, unskilful, and ignorant in om'selves, but he is our wisdom 
in aU whatsoever is amiss in us. Let us labour to see a full supply of our 

Cant. V. 2] 'my undefiled.' 85 

wants made up in Christ. This is to glorify God as much as if we could 
fulfil the law perfectly. If we were as undefiled as Adam was, we could not 
glorify God more, than when wo find ourselves and our conscience guilty 
of sins, yet thus by the Spirit of God to go out of ourselves, and to see our- 
selves in Christ, and thus to cast ourselves on him, embrace him, and take 
that gift of God given us, Christ offered to us, because God so commands, 
John iv. 10. We honour God more than if we had the obedience that 
Adam had at first before his fall. For now in the covenant of grace, he 
will be glorified in his mercy, in his forgi\'ing, forbearing, rich, transcendent 
mercy, and in going be5rond all our unworthiness and sins, by shewing that 
there is a righteousness pro^^ded for us, the righteousness of God-man ; 
whose obedience and satisfaction is more than our disobedience, because 
it is the disobedience of man only, but his obedience and righteousness isf 
the obedience and righteousness of God-man. So it satisfieth divine justice, 
and therefore ought to satisfy conscience to the full. Our faith must an- 
swer Christ's carriage to us. We must therefore account ourselves in him 
* undefiled,' because he accounts us so. Not in ourselves, but as we have a 
being in him, we are undefiled. 

Use 4. Again, see here, Christ accounts us, even in regard of habitual 
grace, undefiled, though xve have for the present many corruptions. Let U3 
therefore learn a lesson of moderation of so excellent a teacher ; let us not 
be ashamed to learn of our Saviour. What spirit shall we think they have, 
that will unchurch churches, because they have some defilement and un- 
brotherly brethren, accounting them no churches, no brethren, because they 
have some imperfections ? Why hath not Chi-ist a quarrel to the church 
then ? is he blind ? doth his love make him blind ? No ; he seeth corrup- 
tion, but he seeth better things ; somewhat of his own, that makes him 
overlook those imperfections, because they are such as he means to mortify, 
subdue, wear away, and to fire out by the power of his Spirit, which as fire 
shall waste all those corruptions in time. So it is with the church. Put 
the case, she hath some corruptions ; that it be not with her, as it should 
be, yet she is a church notwithstanding. The church of Corinth, we see, 
Paul styles them saints and brethren, with all those sweet names, 1 Cor. i. 2, 
notwithstanding they had many coiTuptions among them. 

Use 5. We have a company of malignant spirits, worse than these a 
great deal, atheistical persons, that have no religion at all, v/ho, out of 
malice and envy, ivatchfor the halting of good Christians; who can see no- 
thing but defilement in those that have any good in them, nothing but 
hypocrisy, moppishness, all that is naught ; who, if they can de^dse any 
blemish, put it upon them. Whereas Christ sees a great deal of ill in the 
church, but he sees it to pardon, subdue, and to pity the church for it, ex- 
tolling and magnifying its goodness. What spirits are those of that watch 
to see imperfections in others, that their hearts tell them are better than 
they, that they may only disgrace them by it ; for goodness they will see none. 

Use 6. And likewise, it should teach us not to ivrong ourselves uith false 
judgment. We should have a double eye : one eye to see that which is 
amiss in us, our o^fm imperfections, thereby to carry ourselves in a per- 
petual humility ; but another eye of faith, to see what we have in Christ, 
our perfection in him, so to account of ourselves, and glory in this our best 
being, that in him we have a glorious being, — such an one whereby God 
esteems us perfect, and undefiled in him only. The one of which sights 
should enforce us to the other, which is one end, why God in this world 
loaves corruption in his children. Oh, since I am thus undefiled, shall 


I rest in myself? Is there any harbour for me to rest in mine own 
righteousness ? Oh, no ; it drives a man out of all harbour. Nay, I will 
rest in that righteousness which God hath wrought by Christ, who is God- 
man. That win endure the sight of God, being clothed with which, I can 
endure the presence of God. So, this sight of our own unworthiness and 
wants should not be a ground of discouragement, but a ground to drive us 
perfectly out of ourselves, that by faith we might renew om- title to that 
righteousness, wherein is our especial glory. Why should we not judge of 
ourselves as Christ doth ? Can we see more in ourselves than he doth ? 
Yet, notwithstanding all he sees, he accounts us as undefiled. 

Use 7. Again, since he accoimts us undefiled, because he means to make 
us so, and now looks on us as we shall be, in all our foils* and infii-mities, 
let us comfort ourselves, it shall not thus he always with tis. Oh, this flesh 
of mine shall fall and fall still, and shall decay as Saul's house, and the 
Spirit at the last shall conquer in all this ! I am not chosen to this begin- 
ning, to this conflicting course of life. I am chosen to triumph, to perfec- 
tion of grace : this is my comfort. Thus we should comfort ourselves, 
and set upon our enemies and conflict in this hope of victory : ' I shall 
get the better of myself at the last.' Imperfection should not discourage, 
but comfort us in this world. "We are chosen to perfection. Let us still 
rejoice, in that ' we are chosen to sanctification,' which is a little begun, 
being an earnest of other blessings. Let us not rest in the pledge or in 
the earnest, but labour for a further pledge of more strength and grace. 
For those that have the Spirit of Christ, will strive to be as much unspotted 
and as heavenly as they can, to fit themselves for that heavenly condition 
as much as may be. When, because they cannot be in heaven, yet they 
will converse there as much as they can ; and because they cannot be with 
such company altogether, they will be as much as they may be ; labouring 
as they are able to be that which they shall be hereafter. Imperfection 
contents them not, and therefore they pray still in the Lord's prayer, ' Thy 
kingdom come,' Mat. vi. 10. While there is any imperfection, their hearts are 
enlarged more and more ; nothing contents them but perfection. And indeed 
God accounts us thus unspotted for this end, because he would encourage us. 
Where he sees the will and endeavom*, he gives the title of the thing desired. 

/ ]iave put off my coat ; how shall I put it on ? I have washed my feet ; 
how shall I defile them ? Verse 3. 

Here is an ingenious f confession made by the church of her own unto- 
wardness. Notwithstanding all Christ's heavenly rhetoric and persuasion 
that he did use, yet she di'aws back, and seems to have reason so to do. 
' I have put off" my coat ; how shall I put it on again ' to let thee in ? 'I 
have washed my feet, &c. It is a phrase taken from the custom of those 
hot countries, wherein they used to wash their feet. * I have washed 
my feet ; how shall I defile them ' to rise and open the door to thee ? 
There is a sphitual meaning herein, as if she had said, I have some 
ease by this sleepy profession, some freedom from evil tongues, and some 
exemption and immunity from some troubles I was in before. I was 
then, perhaps, too indiscreet. Now wilt thou call me again to those 
troubles, that I have wisely avoided ? No ; ' I have put ofi" my coat ; how 
shall I put it on ? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them ? ' I 
afiect J this estate very well ; I am content to be as I am, without troubling 
of myself. Thus the church puts ofi" Christ. This I take to be the mean- 
ing of the words. That which is observable is this : that it is not an easy 

* That is, ' falls.'— G. f That is, ' ingenuous.'— G, J That is, ' Hke.'— G. 

Cant. V. 8.1 ' i have put off my coat.* 87 

matter to hrinrf the soul and Christ tofjelher info near fellowship. "Wc see 
lier.'^ how the church draws back ; for the flesh moves either not to yield at 
all to duty, or to be cold, uncertain, and unsettled therein. The flesh 
knows that a near communion with Christ cannot stand with favouring any 
corruption, and therefore the flesh will do something, but not enough. It 
will yield to something, but not to that that it should do, to that communion 
and fellowship that we ought to have with Christ. To instance in some 
particulars, as a rule and measure to somewhat of which we should be. 

Obs. 1. A Christian life should he nothing hut a communion and intercourse 
with Christ, a walking in the Spirit ; and to be spiritual, and to favour the 
things of the Spirit altogether, he should study to adorn his profession 
by a lively and cheerful performance of duty, Mat. v. IG, and bo exemplary 
to others ; and should be in such a frame as he should * walk continually 
in the comforts of the Holy Ghost ' undismayed and undaunted, ' and 
abound in the fruits of the Spirit,' Acts ix. 20,' and do all the good he can 
wheresoever he comes. He should ' keep himself unspotted of the world,' 
James i. 27, go against the stream, and be continually in such a temper 
as it should be the joy of his heart to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, 
2 Tim. iv. 6. One might go on thus in a world of particulars, which 
would be too long. If we could attain to this excellency, it were an happy 
life, a heaven upon earth. This we should aim at. Will the flesh endure 
this, think you ? No, it will not ; which you shall see more particularly 
in this next observation, which is, 

Obs. 2. That one tvay, whereby the unregenerate part in us hinders this 
communion icith Christ, and the shining of a believer in a Christian course, 
is hy false pretences, reasons, and excuses. 'I have washed my feet; I have 
put oS" my coat,' &c. 

The flesh never wants excuses and pretences (there was never any yet 
came to hell, but they had some seeming pretence for their coming thither) 
to shift and shuffle oS" duties. There was never yet any careless, sinful 
course but it had the flesh to justify it with one reason or other ; and there- 
fore it is good to understand the sophistical shifts* of the flesh, and pre- 
tences and shows which it hath. And as it is good to know the truth of 
God, and of Christ revealed in his word, so is it to know the falseness and 
deceitfulness of our own hearts. They are both mysteries almost alike, 
hard to be known. Labour we then more and more to know the falsehood 
of our own disposition, and to know the truth of God. To give instance in 
a few particulars. You see in the church the difficulty of her communion 
with Christ comes from the idle pretences and excuses she hath. Every 
one hath his several pretexts, as his state and condition is. We think we 
should be losers if we give ourselves to that degree of goodness which 
others do ; whereas God doth curse those blessings which men get with 
neglect of duty to him. If we seek * first the kingdom of heaven, all other 
things that are good for us shall be cast upon us,' Mat. vi. 33. 

Obj. Thou shalt lose the favour of such a one ? 

Ans. Never care for that favour thou canst not keep with God's favour. 
The favour of man is a snare. Take heed of that favour that snares thee. 
Thou losest their fovour and company, but thou gainest the favour of Christ, 
and company of angels. 

Obj. But they will rail on thee, and reproach thee with thy old sins ? 

Ans. Care not, ' God will do thee good for that,' as David said when 
Shimei cursed him, 2 Sam. xvi. 12. 

♦ That 13, ' expedients.' — G. 


Ohj. But I shall lose my pleasure ? 

Ans. ! but such pleasures end in death. They are but pleasures of sin 
for a season, and thou shalt not lose by the change. ' The ways of wisdom 
are pleasant ways,' Prov. iii. 17. One day religiously spent in keeping of a 
good conscience, what a sweet farewell hath it ! Joy is in the habitation of 
the righteous. It becomes the righteous to be joyful. However outwardly it 
seems, yet there is a paradise within. Many such objections the flesh 
makes. Some take scandal at the prosperity of the wicked, and affliction 
of the saints, and from hence take occasion to rot in their dregs of sin. 
But what saith Christ ? ' Happy is the man who is not offended in me,' 
Mat. xi. 6. As for the prosperity of the wicked, envy them not. They 
stand in slippery places, and flourish like a green bay tree, but presently 
they vanish. Take no offence at them, nor at the cross. Look not at 
this, but at the ensuing comfort. ' Blessed are they that suffer for right- 
eousness sake,' 1 Pet. iii. 14. Bind such words to your head as your 
crown. God reserves the best comforts to the worst times ; his people 
never find it otherwise. 

Ohj. Aj, but if I be thus precise, the times are so bad, I shall be alone. 

Ans. Complain not of the times, when thou makest them worse. Thou 
shouldst make the times better. The worse the times are, the better be 
thou ; for this is thy glory, to be good in an evil generation. This was 
Lot's glory, 2 Pet. ii. 7. Paul tells what ill times they were ; but, saith 
he, ' our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for a Saviour,' 
Phil. iii. 20. What brings destruction on God's people, but their joining 
with the wicked ? When they joined with the children of men, then came 
the flood. These and the like pretences keep men altogether from good- 
ness, or else from such a measure as may bring honour to God and comfort 
to themselves. 

Or if men be great, why, this is not honourable to do thus, as you know 
what Michal said to David, ' How glorious was the king of Israel this day ! 
like a fool,' &c., 2 Sam. vi. 20. To attend upon the word of God with 
reverence, to make conscience of religion. Oh ! it stands not with greatness, 
&c. But the Spirit of God answereth this in him, ' I will yet be more vUe 
for God,' verse 22. It is a man's honour here to stand for God and for 
good things ; and it is our honour that God will honour us so much. 

Those likewise that are worldly have excuses also. 'Alas ! I must tend 
my calling.' And they have Scripture for it too. ' He that provides not 
for his famUy is worse than an infidel,' 1 Tim. v. 8, as if God had set up 
any caUings to hinder the calling of Christianity ; as if that were not the 
greatest calling, and the best part that will abide with us for ever ; as if it 
were not the part of a Christian to redeem time from his caUing to the 
duties of Christianity. I have no time, saith the worldling ; what will you 
have me to do ? Why, what time had David, when he meditated on the 
law of God day and night ? Ps. i. 2. He was a king. The king is bound 
to study the Scriptures. And yet whose employment is greater than the 
employment of the chief magistrate ? Deut. xvii. 18, 19. 

And thus every one, as their state and condition is, they have several pre- 
tences and excuses. Those that are young, their excuse is, we have time 
enough for these things hereafter. Others, as those that were negligent to 
build the second temple, ' the time is not yet, say they,' Hag. i. 2 ; whenas 
the uncertainty of this life of ours, the weightiness of the business, the 
danger of the custom of sin, the engaging of our hearts deeper and deeper 
into the world, makes it a more difficult thing to be a Christian. It more 

Cant. V. 8.] * i have put off srk' coat.' 89 

and more darkens our understanding;, the more we sin ; and the more it 
estrangeth our affections from good things, the more we have run out in an 
evil course. Time is a special mercy ; but then thou hast not time only, 
but the means, good company, and good motions. Thou mayest never 
have such a gale again ; thy heart may be hardened through the deceitful - 
ness of sin. Again, who would want the comfoiis of religion for the present ? 
As Austin saith, ' I have wanted thy sweetness too long.' * What folly is 
it to want the sweetness and comfort of religion, so long as we may have it. 

Some others pretend, the uncomfortableness of religion, I shall want 
my comforts ; whenas indeed there is no sound comfort without having our 
hearts in a perfect communion with Christ, walking with God, and breaking 
off from our evil courses. What is the reason of discomforts, unresolved- 
ness, and unsettledness ? when we know not where we are, whither we go, 
or what our condition is. Unsettledness breeds discomfort ; and indeed 
there is no pleasure so much as the pleasure that the serving of God hath 
with it. As the fire hath light and heat always in it, so there is no holy 
action that we perform throughly, but as it hath an increase of strength, 
so there is an increase of comfort and joy annexed to it. There is a pre- 
sent reward annexed to all things that are spiritually good. They caiTy 
with them present peace and joy. The conscience hath that present com- 
fort which consumes all discom-agements whatsoever, as is always found in 
the experience of that soul that hath won so much of itself, as to break 
through discouragements to the practice of holy duties. Believers have a 
joy and comfort ' that others know not of,' Rev. ii. 7 ; an hidden kind of 
manna and contentment. 

These and a thousand such like discouragements men frame to them- 
Belves : ' My health will not serve,' ' I shall endanger my life.' ' There 
is a Hon in the way,' saith the sluggard, Prov. xxvi. 13, who, with 
his excuses, ' thinks himself wiser than the wisest in the city,' verse 
16. There is none so wise as the sluggard, for belly-policy teach- 
eth him a great many excuses, which he thinks will go for wisdom, 
because by them he thinks to sleep in a whole skin. He is but a slug- 
gard for all that ; and though he plead ' yet a little while,' poverty, not 
only outward, but spiritual poverty and barrenness of soul, ' will come upon 
him as an anned man,' Prov. vi. 11, and leave him destitute of grace and 
comfort, when he shall see at last what an evil com-se of Ufe he hath led, 
that he hath yielded so much to his lazy flesh to be drawn away by dis- 
couragements from duties that he was convinced were agi'eeable to the word. 
Now, what may be the grounds and causes of these false pretences and ex- 
cuses which hinder us from holy duties ? There be many causes. 

1. First of all, one cause of this in us is this: Naturally, so far as we 
are not guided by a better spirit than our ovm, ire are inclined too much to 
the earthly present things of this life, because they are present and pleasant, 
and we are nuzled up f in them, and whatsoever pulls us from them is un- 
welcome to us. This is one groimd. 

2. Again, join with this, that naturally, since the fall, the soul of man 
having lost wisdom to guide it to that which is truly good, hath wit enough 
left to devise untoward shifts,l to excuse that u-hich is evil. In this fallen 
estate the fonner abilities to devise things throughly good is turned to a 
matter of untoward wit, joined with shifting. § ' God made man right, but 

* ' Confessions,' Book X. [xxvii.], 38. ' Too lato loved I tliee, thou beauty of 
ancient days, yet ever new ! too late 1 loved thee.' — G. f That is, ' nestled.' — G 
X That is, ' cxiicdiciits." — G. 2 That is, ' cxpedicccy.' — G.. 


he hath sought out many inventions,' Eccles. vii. 29. Carnal wit serves 
carnal will very well ; and carnal lusts never want an advocate to plead for 
them, namely, carnal reason. From the bent, therefore, of the soul to ill 
things, pleasure, ease, and honour, such a condition as pleaseth the out- 
ward man since the fall, the bent and weight of the soul goeth this way, to- 
gether with wit. Having lost the image of God in holy wisdom, there is 
shifting. This is a ground also why delays are joined with shifts. 

3. Again, there is another ground, that corrupt nature, in this like the 
devil and sin, which never appear in their own colours, sets a man on this 
way. Who would not hate the devil if he should appear in his own like- 
ness ? or sin, if it should appear in his own colours ? And therefore wit 
stretcheth itself to find out shifts. For, says the heart, unless there be 
some shifts and pretences to cover my shame, I shall be known to be what 
I am indeed, which I would be loth were done. I would have the sweet 
but not the shame of sin, the credit of religion, but not put myself to the 
cost which Cometh with true religion, to deny myself. Corrupt courses 
never appear in their own colours. They are like the devil for this. 

4. And then, again, naturally there is a great deal of hypocrisy in us. 
We may do duties to satisfy conscience, for somewhat must be done, to 
hear now and then, read and come to prayer betwixt sleeping and waking, 
yawning prayers, when we can do nothing else. Somewhat must be done. 
Conscience else will cry out of us that we are atheists, and shall be damned. 
Some slubbering service must be done therefore. Yet notwithstanding, 
herein is our hA'pocrisy, that we cannot bring our hearts to do it, as it 
should be done, to purpose ; for though it be true that there is much im- 
perfection in the best actions, the best performances, yet this is hypocrisy 
when men do not do it as God may accept it, and as it may yield them- 
selves comfort. The heart draws back. Duties it will and must do, but 
yet will not do them as it shall have comfort by them. This is inbred in 
the heart naturally. Conscience forceth to do something, though the flesh 
and corruption pulls back. This is the disposition of all men, till they have 
got the victory of their own atheistical hearts. 

5. And then, again, another ground may be this, a false conceit of God 
and of Christ, that they will take anything at our hands. Because we love 
ourselves, and think that we do very well, we think that God is such a one 
as we are, as it is, ' Thou thoughtest that I was like unto thee,' &c., Ps. 1. 21, 
that God will be put off with anything, and any excuse will serve the turn. 
You have not a swearer, a filthy, careless person, but he thinks God is 
merciful, and Christ died for sinners ; and I was provoked to it, &c. StiU 
he thinks to have some excuse for it, and that they will stand good with 
God. This atheism is in us naturally, and when we are palpably to blame 
in the judgment of others and ourselves in our sober wits, yet we put more 
ignorance and carelessness on God than on ourselves. ' Tush, God re- 
gards it not.' It is the times. I would be better. It is company whom 
I must yield unto, &c. They think God will accept these things from them. 

6. But one main ground thereof is, the scandals that we meet withal in the 
tcorld, which, indeed, is a ground, because our own false hearts are willing to 
catch at anything. You see, say they, these men that make profession of re- 
ligion, what they are ; and then the devil will thrust some hypocrisy * into the 
profession of religion, and they judge all by one or two, and will be sure to 
do it. Therein stands their ingenuity; and if they can see any infirmity in 
them that are incomparably better than themselves, Oh, they are safe. 

* Qu. ' hypocrite ?' — G. 

Cant. V. 3. J * i have put off my coat.' 91 

Here is warrant enough to dislike religion and all good courses, because 
some do and so,* as if the course of rehgion were the worse for that. Thus 
they wrap themselves in those excuses, as men do their hands to defend 
them from pricks. This is the vile poison of our hearts, that will bo naught, 
and yet, notwithstanding, ^vill have reason to bo so. The speech is, wicked- 
ness never wanted pretexts, which, as it is true of great wickedness, much 
more is it of that which goes in the world for drowsy lukewarm profession, 
imder which many sink to hell before they are aware. They never want 
reason and pretexts to cover their sin. There is a mint and forge of them 
in the soul. It can coin them suddenly. Thus we see our wits do servo 
us excellently well to lay blocks in our own way to hinder us from heaven. 
We are dunces, and dull to do anything that is spiritually good, whereof we 
are incapable. But if it be to lay blocks in our own way to heaven, to 
quarrel with God and his ordinances, with the doctrine of salvation, with 
the instruments, teachers, and those that lead us a better way, that our wit 
will serve for. But to take a course to do us good another day, to lay up 
comforts in which we might end and close up our days, there we arc backward, 
and have shift upon shift. This is added for the further explication of it, 
because of the necessity of the point ; for except our hearts be discovered to 
us, we shall never know what religion means, save to know so much as may, 
through the winding, turning, shifting, and falsehood of our own nature, 
bring us to hell. Wherein we are worse enemies to ourselves than the 
devil is, who could not hurt us unless we did betray ourselves. But he 
hath factors in us to deal for him. Our own carnal wit and aftection, they 
hold correspondency with him ; whence all the mischief that he doth us is 
by that intercom'se that our nature hath with Satan. That is the Delilah 
which betrayeth all the Sampsons, sound worthy Christians in the world, 
to their spiritual enemies. Therefore, we can never be sufficiently in- 
structed what a vile natm-e we have, so opposite to religion, as far as it 
is saving. Corrupt nature doth not oppose it so far as it is slubbered 
over, but so far as may bring us to that state we should be in. We have 
no worse enemies than our own hearts. Therefore, let us watch ourselves 
continually, and use all blessed means appointed of God whereby we may 
escape out of this dangerous, sleepy disposition of soul, which cost the 
church so dear, as we shall hear, God willing, hereafter. 


I have put off my coat ; how shall I put it on ? I have ivashed my feet ; hate 
shall I defile them? — Cant. V. 3. 

We are now, by God's assistance, to speak of the remedies ayainst the lazy 
distempers xve are prone unto in spiritual things; where we left off the last day. 

Quest. What course should we take, then, to come forth from this dis- 
tempered laziness ? That we may attain a spiritual taste and relish of 
heavenly things, so as not to loathe religious exercises ; or delay and put 
them off with excuses ? 

Ans. 1. First of all, resolve not to consult ivith flesh and blood in anythiny. 
For it always counsels us for ease, as Peter counselled Christ, ' Master, 
pity thyself,' Mat. xvi. 22. So wo have a nature in us like unto Peter, 
* Qu. ' so and so '?' — Ed. 


Spare, favour, pity thyseK. Like Eve, and Job's wife, we have a corrupt 
nature tliat is always soliciting from* God, and drawing us unto vanity, 
Gen. iii. 6 and Job ii. 10. Take beed of counselling witb flesh and blood; 
for if men were in a city environed round about with enemies, would they 
consult with them what they should do for defence of the city ? Were it not 
a mad part ? And is it not a greater madness when Christians will consult 
with flesh and blood what they should do in duties of obedience, which wiU 
always put us upon terms of ease, the favour of men, content, and the like, 
which, if a man yield to, he shall never enter into heaven ? Take heed 
therefore of consulting with our enemy, seeing Satan hath all the corres- 
pondency he hath by that enemy which we harbour in our bosom. In 
which case the hurt he doth us by his sophistry comes by ourselves. We 
betray ourselves by our carnal reason, whereby Satan mingleth himself 
with our imaginations and conceits. Let us therefore beware we listen 
not to the counsel of flesh and blood, especially when the matter comes to 
suffering once, for there of all other things flesh and blood doth draw back. 
Every one hath a Peter in himself that saith, ' Spare thyself.' Thou art 
indiscreet to venture thyself upon this and that hazard. But where the 
judgment is convinced of the goodness of the cause, whether it be religion 
or justice (for the first or for the second table, that matters not), if the 
judgment be convinced of the thing, then consult not with flesh and blood, 
whatsoever the suffering be. It is not necessary that we should Uve in 
riches, honours, pleasures, and estimation with the world. But it is 
necessary we should live honest men and good Christians. Therefore, 
when flesh and blood objecteth in this kind, consult not with it. First, 
because it is an enemy, and therefore is to be suspected and neglected ; 
secondly, because it is said, ' flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom 
of heaven,' 1 Cor. xv. 50. 

2. And therefore we should practise that first lesson in religion, heavenly 
uisdom. To aid us wherein, Christ, knowing what an enemy we are to 
ourselves in the ways of God, saith, ' Let a man deny himself, and take 
up his cross, and follow me,' Mat. xvi. 24. There is no following of 
Christ, considering that our flesh is so fall of cavils and excuses, unless we 
practise that heavenly lesson of Christ, * to deny ourselves,' our whole self, 
our wit and reason, in the matters of God : our will and affections. Say 
nay to all the sluggishness of the flesh ; silence aU presently, as soon as 
ever they discourage thee from holy ways. Consider whence they come, 
which is enough ; from God's and our enemy, and the worst enemy we 
have, that lieth in our own bosom. And to enable us the better, mark 
what Paul saith, ' We are no more debtors to the flesh,' &c., Rom. viii. 12. 
We owe nothing to it. I owe not such obedience, such subjection, to the 
flesh and carnal reason ; I have renounced it long since. What ! am I ob- 
noxious to a man unto whom I owe no service? We owe the flesh no ser- 
vice or obedience. What! shall we yield to that which we have long since 
renounced ? 

3. And withal, in spiritual courses, let us arm ourselves with resolution. 
First, conclude is it so or not so. Let our judgments be convinced. For 
resolution is a disposition arising from the will immediately ; but it is of 
the will, by sound judgment, convinced of the goodness of the thing, after 
which the will resolves. Get resolution from soundness of conviction that 
such things are good, and that they are best for us, and best for us at this 
time, the sooner the better ; that there is an absolute necessity to have 

* That is, ' away from." — G, 

Cant. V. 3.] * i have put off my coat.' 98 

them, and that they are everlastingly good. Oh ! these considerations will 
put us on amain to obtain the same. It is our duty, and we shall sin 
against God, against our conscience, against the Spirit of God, and against 
others that take like liberty by our examples, if we yield to our base lusts 
and suggestions in this kind. 

And to help resolution the more, let us have before our eyes the ex- 
amples of God's worthies, who (like unto David's worthies, who brake 
through the host of the Philistines for water, 2 Sam. xxiii. 16) have in all 
ages broken through all discouragements, and made a conscience more to 
please God, to hold communion and fellowship with Christ, than to hold 
any correspondency with the world. Look to blessed Paul, ' What do ye 
vexing of me and breaking my heart ? I am ready not only to go to Jeru- 
salem, but to die for Christ's sake,' Acts xxi. 13. And look to Christ how 
he shakes off Peter, * Get thee behind me, Satan,' &c.. Mat. xvi. 23. Look 
to Moses, how he shook off all the solicitations of a court, ' Because he had 
an eye to the recompcnce of the reward,' Heb. xi. 16. Look to Joshua, 
' I and mine house will serve the Lord,' Josh. xxiv. 15. Let others of the 
world do what they will ; if others will go to the devil, let them ; for myself, 
I and my house, those that I have charge of, will serve the Lord. This 
was a noble resolution which was in good Nehemiah, ' Shall such a man as 
I flee?' Neh. vi. 11. What! shall I flee? shall I do this, yield to this 
base discouragement ? shall I discourage others, like those spies of Canaan, 
by mine example ? Hence it is that Hebrews 11th, in that notable chapter, 
that little ' book of martyrs,' after the catalogue of those worthies set down 
there, that which we are exhorted and pointed to in the beginning of the 
next chapter, is unto the practice of the like virtues, in imitation, having 
before us ' such a cloud of witnesses,' wherewith being compassed, the ex- 
hortation is, ' Let us therefore shake off everything that presseth do^vTi, 
and the sin that hangeth so fast on,' &c., Heb. xii. 1 (t). As the cloud 
was a guide to them to Canaan out of Egypt, so the cloud of good examples 
is as it were a light to go before us to the heavenly Canaan. 

In this case above all, let us look to Christ, ' who is the author and 
finisher of our faith,' Heb. xii. 2. This will make us break through dis- 
couragements and resolve indeed. What could hinder him ? His love is 
so fiery, that nothing could hinder him to come from heaven to the womb 
of the virgin ; from thence to the cross, and so to the grave, to be abased 
lower than ever any creature was. His love to us so carried him through 
all discouragements and disgi'aces. ' Consider him, who endured such 
speaking against of sinners,' Heb. xii. 3. The consideration of Christ's love 
and example will carry us through all discom-agements whatsoever. 

4. And further, let us be able by sound reasons to justify the imys of God, 
and to answer cavils ; to yive account of what ire do to ourselves and others, 
with reasons why we sanctify the Sabbath, have such communion with God 
in prayer, neglect the fashions of the world, &c. To have reasons ready 
from Scripture is an excellent thing ; when we are able to justify whatso- 
ever we do by the word, against all the quarrels of our own hearts and 
others. When we are led to do things only by the example of others, or 
by respects, then we are ofttimcs put to it on the sudden by temptations, 
being not able to justify what we do. Let us labour therefore to do things 
upon good groimds, and be able to justify all the ways of religion, as they 
are easily justified. For nothing in this world stands with so much reason, 
as exactness in the ways of God. There is so much reason for nothing in 
the world, as to be not only Christians, but exact Christians, as Paul saith 


to Agrippa, * Would to God you were not almost, but altogether as I am, 
saving these bonds,' Acts xxvi. 29, to make conscience of all ways and 
courses. It stands with the most reason of the world, so to justify religion 
by reasons unanswerable, that may set down corrupt nature, and stop the 
mouth of the devil himself. And herein let us propound sound and strong 
questions to ourselves often. Are those things that I am moved to do good, 
or are they not ? If they be good, why do I not do them ? If they be bad, 
why do I do them at all ? If they be good, why do I stick at them ? 
How do I prove them to be good ? Have alway ready some Scripture, or 
reason from thence, which is as good. The reasons of the word are most 
divinely strong, let them be ready against all objections whatsoever, as 
against slight oaths, think of that of Christ, that we must give an account for 
all idle words, Mat. xii. 36. How much more for atheistical oaths ! So 
against gi'osser sins learn reason, a civil man, an heathen, would not do thus. 
So also when the flesh moveth us to any backwardness in religious courses, 
let us have some Scripture ready, or reasons deducted from it. As, 1. 
From the dignity of our jyrofession, from the great hojoes ice hare to be glonous 
another day. And reason the matter. How doth this that I am moved to, 
suit with my hopes and expectation to come? How furthers it my journey 
homewards ? And consider this likewise. 2. That no excuse tcill serve the 
turn at the day of judgment, but such an one as arisethfrom an invincible 
infirmity, or an unremovable impediment. Such an excuse, taken from an 
invincible infirmity, may then serve the turn. As, when we cannot possibly 
do a thing, fi.-om impediments that all the means in the world cannot 
remove, as, a poor man cannot be liberal, &c. Excuses also, fetched 
from impossible impediments, as fi'om invincible weakness, may avail. If 
a man have an infirm body, that he cannot do that which another man can. 
These excuses, with a gracious God, will serve the turn : which are not so 
much excuses, as a just plea. But otherwise, our untoward excuses will 
not serve the turn. What hindered them in the gospel who were invited 
to the supper ? Luke xiv. Excuses from oxen, wives, &c. Was it not 
lawful to buy oxen ? and was it not lawful for the married to take content 
in a wife ? ' Another had married a wife.' Were not all these things 
lawful ? Very lawful. The farm hurts not, if it hinder not, nor the wife, 
oxen, nor anything. But in this case, when we regard these things more 
than the invitation to come to the feast of holy things, here is the malice of 
the devil, which brings that doleful message, ' They shall never taste of my 
feast,' Luke xiv. 24. There is such an infinite disproportion between the 
good of religion, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost here, and 
heaven and happiness hereafter, and between anything in this world, that 
to allege any hindrance whereby we cannot keep a good conscience, and 
preserve assurance of salvation, is most extreme folly and atheism. I believe 
not a better life, the disproportion being so great between the state of this 
life and a better, if I fetch excuses from the things of this life, to keep me 
from religion, the fear of God, and working out my salvation with fear and 
trembling. These excuses will not serve the turn. Not only with God at 
the day of judgment, but also our own consciences will tell us, that we are 
hypocrites to make such or such a plea. Therefore, when men become 
false, thereby to provide for wife or children, and take corrupt courses to 
keep them from religion, with pretext of their callings, lest they should lose 
one day in seven, this employment cannot prosper, which slights over 
duties under false pretences. Oh, they can toil for the pelf of the world ! 
But for matters of their souls, they turn off all shamefully, as if there were 

Cant. V. 3.J * i have put off my coat.' 95 

not a God to judge them, a heaven to reward them, or a hell to punish 
them. Will such excuses sei-ve the turn ? Oh, no ; they cannot with 
conscience, much less with God the Judge, who is greater than our con- 
science. This is another way to cut off these idle cavils, to consider that 
these excuses cannot serve the turn, neither to comfort conscience in this 
world, nor to uphold us in oui" plea at the day of judgment. Remember 

5. And then again, Let ks inure ourselves to hear the yoke of reUgion from 
our youth, which will make it easy aftei-wards. It were an excellent thing 
if those who are young, in the prime of their years, would inure themselves 
to the exercise of religion. This would make it easy unto them, to read 
the word of God, to open their spirits unto him in prayer. It may please 
God hereby (though they be negligent herein), yet they may be called to 
religion. But for an old man there is much work to do to read, to get 
anything into his brain, when his memory is pestered with other things, 
and corrupt nature in him is armed with a world of excuses, that might 
have been prevented by a timely and seasonable training up in a course of 
religion. Profane young persons know not what they do when they put oflP 
religion. Have they excuses now ? They wiU have many more hereafter, 
when Satan and corruption will be much stronger. ! let them bear the 
yoke of reUgion, that is, inure themselves to duties that become Christians, 
which may facilitate and make it easy and pHable, that it may not be harsh 
to our natui-e. If a man do not hear, pray, and read, he can never have 
faith, grace, knowledge, mortification of corruption, wherein religion stands. 
But because these lead to duties that are hard to nature, and harsh, it is 
wisdom to inure young ones thereto betimes, that, having used themselves 
to these preparing duties, they may be the more fitted for the essential ones ; 
that, having things in the brain by reading and hearing, grace may be 
wrought in the heart, it being a more easy passage from the brain to the 
heart. When a man is converted, it is an easy matter to bring it from the 
brain unto the heart ; whereas a man that hath been negligent in his youth 
must then be instructed in the principles of religion. Therefore, it is a 
miserable case (though men be never so politic in the world) to have been 
negUgent herein till age. It breeds a great deal of diificulty to them, ero 
they can come to be in such a state as a Christian should be in. Remem- 
ber this, therefore, to do as Paul adviseth Timothy, a young man, ' to 
exercise himself in godliness,' 1 Tim. iv. 7. It is a good thing for all that 
are young to exercise themselves to all duties of religion, or else pretences 
will grow up with age, whereby they will be indisposed every day more than 
other. Experience shews it generally. We may believe it. If we will 
not, we shall fixid it hereafter too true by woful experience. 

6. And then again, by little and little, not only to be inured to the yoke 
of rehgion, but likewise to endure difficulties, opposition, and hardship; as 
the apostle stands upon it to Timothy, * to endure hardship and afflictions 
from the beginning,' 2 Tim. ii. 3, If the thing be good and warrantable, 
neglect the speeches of the world. What are the speeches of a company 
of men in the state of nature, in their miserable condition, to regard them, 
so as not to endure hardship in such things, of the goodness whereof we 
are convinced ? But in these days men take up a delicate profession of 
reUgion. Men will be religious, but they will suffer nothing, not a taunt 
or a scoff. They will part with nothing ; be at no loss ; suffer no cross ; 
be at no pains with religion further than may stand with all earthly content 
of this v,-orld. This delicate profession, if anything among us, threateneth 


the removing of the gospel and blessed truths we enjoy, because we will not 
part with any pleasure now. How will they suffer afflictions for the gos- 
pel, if such times come, that will not part with a vain oath, a corrupt 
fashion of life, a superfluity, that will not part with a rotten unsavoury 
discourse, which discovereth a rotten spirit, and infecteth others ? Here 
is a profession of religion, indeed, that cannot have so much mastery of the 
corrupt heart as to deny and overcome itself in things that are grossly ill ! 
How will a man part with his blood and life, that will not part with things 
that he should part withal ? not only with something to the poor and to 
good uses, but to part with some sinful course of life, and wicked and un- 
godly lusts that fight against the soul ; who will not endm'e not so much 
as a check ; who, rather than they will go under that censure wherewith 
the world is pleased to disgrace religion, they will live and die like atheists. 
This extreme tenderness in the matters of God and of salvation is the cause 
why many eternally perish. 

7. Again, to cut off all vain excuses, let us oft have in thought of our heart 
what ice should he, and ivhat we should all aim at, and how far we come all 
short of it. A Christian that hopes of good of his religion should live by 
faith, and depend upon God in the use of lawful means. If he be as he 
should be, he ought to walk with God, keep his watch with him, and do 
nothing unbeseeming the eye of God. When his corruption draws him to 
be careless, then he is not as he should be ; for in a right temper, he ought 
to be fitted to every good work, ready for all opportunities of doing any- 
thing that is good, because the time of this life is the seedtime, the time of 
doing good. The time of reaping is in the world to come. AVhen, there- 
fore, the heart is shut, when any opportunity is offered of doing good, he 
may conclude certainly, I am cold and dull ; pretend what I will, I am not 
as I should be. A Christian ought to ' abound in the work of the Lord,' 
1 Cor. XV. 58, especially having such abundance of encouragements as we 
have. What a world of encouragements hath a Christian ! There are none 
to * those of religion, from the inward content that it brings here, at the hour 
of death, and in glory hereafter. When we are drawn to be scanty, nig- 
gardly, and base to things that are good, surely this is not as it should be. 
Pretend what we will to the contrary, this is a fault. A Christian should 
at all times be fit to yield and to lender up his soul unto God, because our 
life is uncertain. WTien, therefore, we are moved by corruption to live in 
a state that we cannot abide to die in, because we are under the guilt of 
some sin, then certainly, pretend what we will, our state is so far naught, 
as far as there is unfitness and unwillingness to die. Let us have in the 
eye of our soul, therefore, what a Christian should be, aim at it, and think 
that when we stop at a lower measure and pitch, that, pretend what we 
will, all is but from carnal wit and policy, the greatest enemy that religion 

We pray in the Lord's Prayer, ' Thy kingdom come ; thy will be done in 
earth, as it is done in heaven : ' great desires, and which should be the 
desires of all our hearts. But herein we play the hypocrites. Whilst we 
pray thus, that the kingdom of God may come, that Christ may rule in our 
hearts over lusts and desires ; yet notwithstanding, we pretend this and 
that excuse, whereby we may be led with this and that lust. We cross 
our own prayers. Yet it sheweth what pitch we should aspire to, ' To 
sanctify the Lord in our hearts,' to delight in him, and trust in him above 
all. AVhen we do not this, we fall short of our own prayers. And when 
* That is, ' there are no encouragements compared with.' — Ed. 

Cant. V. 3.] * i have put off my coat.' 97 

we cannot bring our hearts to suffer, and to do what God would have us to 
do, but are led away with our own wills, we arc not as we should be. Our 
wills should be confoi'mable to Christ's in all things. It is our prayer, and 
therefore we should aim at it. Now, when flesh and blood sets up a pitch 
of religion, I am well enough ; and yet prays, ' Hallowed be thy name ; 
thy kingdom come ; th}'^ will be done,' &c., — such a man is an hypocrite. 
For his prayer leads him further and further still, till he come to heaven, 
where is all perfection ; until when, our life is a life of endeavour and 
progress. Though we be never so perfect, yet Christ may more rule and 
set up his kingdom yet more in the heart, and further bring our will to his 
in all things. When flesh and blood sets up cavils against this, we play the 
hypocrites with God, and cross ourselves. Therefore, let us justify a 
measure of religion beyond our present pitch, whatsoever it is ; justify it 
more and more stiU. Think, we are never as we should be till we be in 
heaven ; and never bless ourselves, but think that we should always be on 
the growing hand ; and whatsoever excuse comes to hinder us from zeal- 
ousness and earnestness, though it carry a show of reason in the profession 
of religion, account it to come from our corrupt hearts. 

8. Again, remember to do all things to God and not to man, in our callings 
both of religion and in our particular callings ; and then whatsoever dis- 
couragement there is from men, we should not be discouraged. We shall 
hear men continually complain of others, that they are unthankful persons ; 
and why should we do anything for them ? Why ! do it to God. K it fall 
within our callings, let us do justice and shew mercy. God will accept, 
though men do not. It cuts off many discouragements in duties. It is 
best to have God's reward. In this world it is good to meet with naughty 
unthankful persons, because else we should meet with all our reward here. 
It is good to do somewhat for God's sake, and for religion, let people be as 
unthankful as they will ; to say, I did it not to you, but to God. If a man 
regard the discouragement of the world, he shall never do that which is 
good, people in the world are so unthankful and regardless to those that 
wish them best, and that do best to them. But if a man do a thing to 
God, and do it out of duty and conscience, he may hold on ; have he never 
so many discouragements in the world, he shall lose nothing. All shall 
be rewarded, and is regarded. 

9. Likewise, be sure to carry this in mind, that sin is the greatest evil, 
and grace and goodness the best thing in the world. Therefore, there is no 
excuse for sin, from anything in the world, for it is the worst thing in the 
world, which stains the soul, and hinders it from comfort. And for grace 
and goodness in the inward man, it is the best thing in the world. There- 
fore, purchase this, though with disadvantage. It is best to avoid sin, 
though with enduring evil ; yea, to avoid the least sin, by enduring the 
greatest evil. It is wisdom to do good with disadvantage, when the disad- 
vantage is bounded only in this life, the thing that I do being a thing 
which furthers my reckoning at the day of account. Therefore, have this 
alway in consideration, whatsoever I suffer in this world, I will not sin. 
This will cut off a world of excuses. 

Therefore, let us labom- to cut off all cavils, and to ' arm ourselves.' It 
is the apostle Peter's exhortation, 1 Pet. iv. 1. As David's worthies brake 
through the pikes to fetch him water from the well of Bethlehem, 2 Sam. 
xxiii. 16, so all Christian worthies that look to be crowned, let them be 
armed inwardly with resolution for good things, take up resolutions that 
they will do it. As Paul tells his scholar Timothy of his purpose, ' Thou 



knowest my purpose, and manner of living,' 2 Tim. iii. 10. This is the 
manner of a Christian life : that this, I will not break for all the world. 
So, there is a purpose of living honestly a manner of life, not by starts, 
now and then to speak a word, and to do a good deed ; but there is a 
a purpose and a manner of life for it. He resolves always for the best 

And to this end beg of God his Spirit, which is above all impediments. 
The more Spirit, the more strength and courage against impediments. The 
more we attend upon holy means, the more spiritual and heavenly light and 
life is set up in the soul. The more spiritual we are, the more we shall 
tread under foot all those things that stand between us and heaven. Let 
us therefore labour more and more for the Spirit, and then we shall oifer 
an holy violence unto good things ; as it was said of John Baptist's time, 
' The kingdom of God suffered violence,' Mat. xi. 12. Men were so eager 
of it, as that they surprised it as a castle, by violence. There is no way 
to take heaven but by offering violence to discouragement, corruption, and 
whatsoever stands in the way. The violent only takes heaven by force.* 
Now when we are spiritual, we shall not pretend, that ' there is a lion in 
the way,' that there are difficulties, as the sluggard doth, that thinks him- 
self wiser than many men who can render a reason. But we shall go boldly 
and courageously on ; and know that there are more encouragements for 
good, and stronger, than the world hath allurements to be naught, which 
are but for the present life ; hut we have inward ones, which will hold out 
in the hour of death and after. Therefore, go on boldly and resolutely in 
good things, always remembering to beg the Spirit of God, that may arm 
our spirits with invincible courage. 

Now the Spirit of God brings faith with it, which is a conquering, victo- 
rious grace over the world, and ' sees him that is in\isible,' Heb. xi. 27 ; 
which brings love also, 'which is strong as death,' Cant. "sdii. 6 : wherewith 
the soul being warmed, it constraineth us to do duties in spite of all impe- 
diments. The Spirit of God will strengthen our hope also of heaven, which 
strengthens us against all discom-agements which stand in our way. For 
this hope is on greater and better gi'ounds than discouragements are ; and 
he that giveth us this hope, will enable us to possess it. 

Therefore labour first, to have a dear understanding of the things of God, 
and of the excellency of them ; for light will cause heat Why did the king- 
dom of heaven in John Baptist's time, ' suffer violence ?' Why were men then 
so violent to cleave unto Christ ? Because from that time the gospel was 
more clearly manifested. And heavenly truths, the more they are discovered 
and laid open (there is such an excellency in them), the more they work 
upon the heart and affections. Therefore, 'the kingdom of heaven suffered 
■violence.' And where are people more earnest after good things, than in 
these places where the evangelical truths of God are laid open most ? There 
they break through all discouragements whatsoever. 

And so, labour for faith to believe those truths: which is the most victorious 
and conquering grace, that will carry us through all discouragements what- 
soever ; because it will set greater things before us, than the discourage- 
ments are. Are we afraid of men ? Faith, it sets hell before us. Are we 
allured by the world ? It sets heaven before us. It conquers the world, 
with all the discouraging temptations thereof. Ai'e the discouragements 

* This recalls the little hook of Thomas Watson's, called ' Heaven taken by 
Storm,' memorable as having been the occasion of the conversion of the celebrated 
Colonel Gardiner, whose life by Doddridge is one of o^ar Christian classics. — G 

Cant. V. 3.] * i have put off my coat.' 99 

£i-om impossibilities ? 0, it is liarcl, I cannot do it. Aye, but, saitli Paul, 
' I am able to do all things through Christ that strengthens me,' Phil. iv. 13. 
There is a kind of omnipotency in faith, ' woman, be it unto thee as thou 
wilt,' Mark xv. 28. Wo have abundance of strength in Christ. Faith is 
but an empty hand, that goes to Christ to draw from him what it hath need 
of; 'In Christ I can do all things.' 

So, to have our hearts warmed with love to him. This grace of the Spirit 
will make us pass through all discouragements, for it hath a constraining 
power. ' The love of Clu-ist constrains us,' saith the apostle, 2 Cor. v. 14. 
If our hearts once be warmed with the love of Christ, this will make us 
to think nothing too dear for Christ, and will cut off all excuses and pretences 
whatsoever, which come fi'om coldness of affection. ' Love is strong as 
death,' as we have it in this book, ' much water cannot quench it,' Cant, 
viii. 6. All oppositions and discouragements whatsoever, all the water 
which the devil and the world hath or useth, cannot quench the heavenly 
fire of love, when it is kindled in any measure. What carried the blessed 
saints and martyrs of God in aU times through the pikes of all discourage- 
ments ? The Spirit of God, by the spirit of love, from a spirit of faith, 
and heavenly conviction of the excellency and truth of the things. They 
saw such a light, which wrought upon their affections, and carried them 
amain against the stream (contrary to the stream of the times wherein they 
lived), that the worse the times were, the better they were. 

10. And let us consider again, that Christ xdllnot he always thus alluring 
its ; that we shall not always have these encouragements, such truths and 
motions of God's Spirit, as perhaps we feel now. Therefore, when we feel 
any good motion stirred up toward Christ, entertain it presently. Happily 
we shall never hear of it again. The longer we defer and put it off, the 
worse. As a man that is rowing in a boat, let him neglect his stroke, the 
neglecting of one may make him tug at it five or six times after to oveiiake 
those that are before him. So nothing is gotten by sloth and negligence. 
We do but cast ourselves back the more. 

11. And let us help om'selves icith setting the glory to come before our eyes, 
with Moses to have a patriarch's eye to him ' that is invisible,' to see * a 
country afar off,' Heb. xi. 27. Now, ' we are nearer salvation than when 
we believed.' Let us help our backward souls this way : that so, having 
still gloiy in om* eyes, it may help us to go through all discouragements, 
whatsoever they be. We know Zaccheus, when he was afi'aid that he should 
not see Christ, went before the multitude ; and getting up upon the top of 
a tree, thus helps himself. So doth grace help itself by glory. And so far 
is gi-ace fi-om objecting and pretending lets,* as it makes supplies in God's 
service ; as David, who in this case was pleased to be accounted vile, 2 Sam. 
vi. 22. Let us look unto the recompence of the reward; not to the present 
discouragements, but to the prize at the end of the race. "WTiat makes a 
soldier to fight hard for the \'ictory in the end ? The sweetness of the tri- 
umph. What makes a husbandman go through all discouragements ? He 
hopes to receive a crop in the end. Consider the issue which foUoweth 
after a conscionable, careful, and Christian life, after a more near and per- 
fect vralking with God, maintaining communion with him. Let there be 
what discom-agements there will be in the world, ' the end thereof is peace.' 
' The end of that man is peace,' Ps. xxxvii. 37. Upon this gi'ound, the 
apostle exhorts us, ' to be ii-uitful and abundant in the work of the Lord ; 
knowing that your laboiu' is not in vain in the Lord,' 1 Cor. xv. 58. 

* That is, ' hindrances.'--- G. 



I rose to open to my beloved ; hut my beloved had withdrawn himself. — 

Cant. V. 6. 

Natueally we are prone to delays in heavenly things, and then to cover all 
with excuses. A man is a sophister to himself, whom he first deceives, 
before the devil or the world deceive him ; which is the reason why so oft in 
Scripture you have this mentioned: ' Be not deceived, God is not mocked,' 
Gal. vi. 7. * Be not deceived, neither adulterer, nor covetous person, nor 
such and such, shall ever enter into the kingdom of heaven,' 1 Cor. vi. 9. * Be 
not deceived,' which is an intimation that naturally we are very prone to be 
deceived in points of the greatest consequence in the world, to flatter our- 
selves, as the church doth here, with false excuses. ' I have put off my 
coat,' &c. But we shall now see in this next verse what becomes of all 
those excuses and backwardness of the church whereby she puts oft 

* My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels 
were moved for him. 

' I rose to open to my beloved ; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and 
my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. 

' I rose to open to my beloved ; but my beloved had withdrawn him- 
self,' &c., ver. 4-6. 

This comes of her sluggishness and drowsiness, that Christ absented and 
withdrew himself. There are three things here set down in these verses now 

1. Christ's ivithdrawing of himself . 

2. His gracious dealing, having ivithdrawn himself. 

He doth not altogether leave his church, but ' puts his finger into the 
hole of the door,' and then leaves some sweetness behind him before he 
goes. After which is set down, 

3. The success of Christ's departure and withdrawing of himself from her. 
(1.) Her bowels were moved in her, which were hard before. 

(2.) She rose up out of her bed, wherein formerly she had framed and 
composed herself to rest. 

(3.) She seeks and calls after him. 

But the doctrinal points which are to be observed out of these verses are 

Obs. 1. That Christ doth sometimes use to leave his children, as he did the 
church here. 

Obs, 2. That the cause is from the church herself, as we see how unkindly 
she had used Christ, to let him attend her leisure so long. Therefore he, 
taking a holy state upon him, leaves the church. The cause of his for- 
saking us is in ourselves. We may thank ourselves for it. 

Obs. 3. That though Christ deal thus with us, yet notwithstanding he 
never leaves iis xvholly, ivithout some footsteps of his saving grace and everlasting 
love ; some remainders and 2'>rints he leaves itjDon the soid, so as it lingers after 
him, and never rests till it find him. He always leaves something. There 
is never a total desertion ; as we see here in Christ's dealing, ' he puts his 
finger into the hole of the door.' He stands at the door, and leaves myrrh 
behind him, something in the heart that causeth a lingering and restless 
affection in her towards Christ. 

Cant. V. G.J * my beloved had withdrawn niMSELF.' 101 

Ohs. 4. That the church, by reason of this gracious dealing of Christ, (leaving 
somewhat behind him) is sensible of her former imkindness, is restless, and stirs 
up herself to endeavour more and more, till she have recovered her former com- 
munion and sweet fellowship iviih Christ which she had before. She never 
gives over till Christ and she meet again in peace, as we shall see in the 
prosecution. These be the chief points considerable. 

Obs. 1. First, Christ doth use sometimes to leave his church, as here he doth, 
* My beloved had withdrawn himself,' &c. 

But what kind of leaving is it ? 

We must distinguish of Christ's leavings and withdrawingg of himself. 
They are either in regard of outward or inward comforts and helps. 

1. Outward, as Christ leaves his church sometimes by taking away the 
means of salvation, the ministry, or by taking away outward comforts, which is 
a withdrawing of his ; especially if he accompany the taking of them away 
with some signs of his displeasure or sense of his anger, as usually it falls 
out. This doth embitter all crosses and losses, namely, when they come 
from Christ as a testimony of his anger for our former unkindness. 

2. Sometimes his forsaking is more inward, and that is double, either in 
regard oi peace and joy, sweet inward comfort that the soul had wont to feel 
in the holy ordinances by the Spirit of Christ; or in regard oi strength and 
assistance. There is a desertion in regard of comfort and in regard of 
strength. Sometimes he leaves them to themselves, in regard of strength 
and supportation, to fall into some sin, to cure some greater sin perhaps. 

Now that Christ thus leaves his church, it is true of all, both of the body 
and of each particular member of the church. 

(1.) It is true of the ivhole body of the church, for you have the church 
complaining, Isa. xlix. 14, ' God hath forgotten me,' ' Can a mother forget 
her child?' saith God again. So Ps. xliv. 9; and in other places the 
church complains of forsakings. The Scripture is full of complaints in this 

(2.) It is true of the several members, and especially of the most eminent 
members, as we see holy Job complains, as if God had ' set him,' as it were, 
' a butt to shoot at,' Job vi. 4, and had opposed himself against him. So 
David complains, Ps. Ixxxviii. 11, Ps. Ixxvii. 9, and Ps. Ix. 1, and in other 
Psalms, of God's anger. ' Correct me not in thine anger,' Ps. vi. 1. 
The Psalms are full of this, so as it would be time unprofitably spent to be 
large in a point so clear, that every one knoweth well enough who reads 
and understands the Psalms. So Jonah likewise felt a kind of forsaldng 
when he was in the midst of the sea, when the waves were without and 
terrors within, when he was in the midst of hell, as it were, Jonah ii. 2. 
Thus, you see, the instances clear the point. 

The ends that God hath in it are many. (1.) To endear his jn-esence the 
more to us, which we slighted too much before. It is our corruption, the 
not valuing of things till they be gone. We set not the true price upon 
them when we enjoy them. When we enjoy good things, we look at the 
gi-ievanccs which are mingled with the good, and forget the good ; which, 
when it is gone, then we remember the good. The Israelites could remem- 
ber their onions and garlic, and forget their slaverj^ Num. xi. 5. So, be- 
cause manna was present, they despised manna, and that upon one incon- 
venience it had, ' it was ordinary with them,' Num. xxi. 5. Thus the cor- 
rupt heart of man is prone in the enjoying of favours. If it have any 
grievance, it murmurs at that ; and it troubles and makes them forget all 
the goodness and sweetness of what they enjo}'. But, on the contrary, 


when God withdraws those good things from us, then we forget those for- 
mer inconveniences, and begin to think what good we had by them. This 
is the poison and corruption of oui- nature. 

(2.) Again, Christ seems to forsake us, to trij the truth of the graces and 
affections in us, whether they be true or not ; and to cause us to make after 
him, when he seems to forsake us, as undoubtedly we shall, where there is 
truth of gi-ace planted in the heart in any measm-e. 

(3.) And in regard of others, he doth it to teach us heavenly ivisdom, how 
to deal ivith those in affliction, 2 Cor. i. 4. It makes us wise, tender, and 
successful in dealing with others, when we have felt the like particular 
grievance ourselves, as Gal. vi. 1, ' Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a 
fault, you that are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meek- 
ness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.' Experience of spi- 
ritual grief in this kind, wUl make us fit, able, and wise every way to deal 
with others. 

(4.) This serves likewise to wean us from the world, in the 2^le7ity and 
abundance of all earthly things. For take a Christian that hath no cross in 
the "world, let him find some estrangement of Chiist from his spirit, that he 
finds not the comforts of the Holy Ghost, and that enlargement which in 
former times he enjoyed, and all the wealth he hath, the earthly content- 
ments he enjoys, please him not, nor can content that soul, which hath 
ever felt sweet communion with Christ. Again, how should we pray with 
earnestness of affection, ' Thy kingdom come,' in the time of prosperity, 
except there were somewhat in this kind to raise up the soul to desire to be 
gone ? Now, it is our subjection to these alterations and changes, ebbings 
and Sowings, sometimes to have the sense of God's love in Christ, and 
sometimes to want it ; sometimes to feel his love, and sometimes again the 
fruits of his anger and displeasure, which serves exceedingly to stir up men's 
desires of heaven. 

(5.) In this place here, the especial end was To correct the security, and 
ill carriage of the church. 

And, likewise (6.) to i^yepare the church, by this desertion and seeming 
forsaking, for nearer communion. For, indeed, Christ did not forsake her, 
but to her feeling, to bring her, in the sequel, to have nearer communion 
and union with himself than ever she had before. God forsakes, that he 
may not forsake. He seems strange, that he may be the more friendly. 
This is Christ's usage. He personates an adversary, when he intends to 
shew the greatest effects of his love, as we may see afterwards in the pas- 
sages following. 

And also, (7.) to make us to know thoroughly the bitterness of sin, that we 
may grow up to a further hatred of that which deprives us of so sweet a 
communion. We think sin a trifle, and never know it enough tiU the time 
of temptation ; that conscience be awakened and opened ; that it appears 
in its right colours. 

And then, again, (8.) that we may know ivhat Christ suffered and under- 
ivent for us, in the sense of God's math, in the absence of his favour for a 
time. This the human nature could never have suffered, if his divinity had 
withdrawn itself. Now, all of us must sip of that cup, whereof Christ drank 
the dregs, having a taste what it is to have God to forsake us. For the 
most part, those beHevers who live any time (especially those of great parts), 
God deals thus with. Weaker Chi-istians he is more indulgent unto. At 
such times we know of what use a Mediator is, and how miserable our con- 
dition were without such an one, both to have borne and overcome the 

Cant. Y. C] ' in: beloved had withdrawn himself.' 103 

wrath of God for us, whicli burden he could never have undergone, but had 
sunk under it, but for the hypostatical union. 

Use 1. Let us not, therefore, censure any Christian, u-Jien ice find that 
their course hath been good and gracious, yet notwithstanding they seem to 
want comfort. Let us not wonder at them, as if God had utterty forsaken 
them. Indeed, sometimes they think themselves forsaken, and the world 
thinks them so too, ' that God regards them not,' Ps. lx\i. 18. They are 
people of no respect either to God or to others, as you have the chm'ch in 
the Psalms complaining, as if God had forsaken them,' Ps. xliv. 9 ; so they 
think themselves forsaken, and the world thinks them so too, and neglects 
them. Therefore, in so doing, we shall censure the generation of the right- 
eous. It was thus with the Head of the church, with the whole church, 
and with every particular member. Neither is it fit we should always en- 
joy the sense of God's love. Christ by heavenly wisdom dispenseth of his 
sweetness, comforts, and peace, as may stand with oui* souls' best good, 
and we should as much take heed of censuring ourselves in that condition, 
as if we were rejected and cast away of God. We must judge ourselves at 
such times by faith, and not by feeling ; looking to the promises and word 
of God, and not to our present sense and apprehension. 

Use 2. Again, if this be so, leam to prepare and look for it beforehand, 
and to get some grounds of comfort, some promises oxit of the uvrd, and to keep 
a good conscience. it is a hea^y thing, when God shall seem to be angry 
with us, and our conscience at the same time shall accuse us ; when the 
devil shall lay sins hard to our charge, and some affliction at the same time 
lie heavy upon the sore and guilty soul. If we have not somewhat laid up 
beforehand, what will become of the poor soul, when heaven, and earth, 
and hell, and all shall seem to be against it. There are few that come to 
heaven, but they know what these things mean. It is good, therefore, to 
look for them, and to prepare some comforts beforehand. 

But what here should be the inward moving cause ? It is in the church 
herself; for mark the coherence. She had turned off Christ with excuses, 
pretences, and dilatory answers ; and now presently upon it Christ for- 
sakes her in regard of her feeling, and of the sweet comfort she foi'merly 
enjoyed. The point is, 

Obs. 2. That the cause rests in ourselves uhy Christ wiihdraivs comfort from 
our soids. 

If we seai'ch om* own hearts we shall find it so, and usually the causes in 
oui'selves are these, as it was in the chm'ch here : 1. When ue are unkind 
to Christ, and repel the sweet motions of the Spirit. 2. When ue imjorove 
not the pirecious means of salvation that ive enjoy. 3. When we are careless 
of our conversation and comj^any. 4. When we linger after carnal liberties 
and ease. 5. When we yield to carnal policy and shifts to keep ns off from the 
power of religion, to go on in a lukewann course. 6. When ice linger after 
earthly things and comforts, and wrap om'selves up in fleshly policy for ease. 
7. When we tremble not at God's judgments and threatenings, and at the 
signs of them ; with many such things. Where these dispositions are, we 
need not wonder if we find not the comforts of Christ and of the Holy 
Ghost in us, with the gracious presence of his Spii'it. The cause is in our- 
selves. But secm-ity hath been at large spoken of before, where the church's 
sleep was handled.* Therefore, the point shall not be here enlarged, but 
only some use made of it, as may serve for the present pm-pose. 

Use 1. If Christ should take away the comforts that we enjoy, and 

, * See pp. 35-44, cl seq. — G. 


remove himself and his dwelling from us, for he is now yet among us and 
knocks at our doors, do we not c/ive him just cause to depart ? "What a spirit 
of slumber possesseth us, which will be awaked with nothing to seek after 
Christ ! How few lay hold upon God, press upon him, wrestle with him 
by prayer, to hide themselves before the evil day come, as they should do ! 
Therefore, if Christ have absented himself a long time from the church 
in general, and withdrawn the comfort and presence of his ordinances ; and, 
in particular, withheld the sweet comforts of our spirits and our peace, so 
that we see him in the contrary signs of his displeasure and anger, as if 
he did not regard and respect us, we have given him just cause so to do. 
We see here how the church used Christ ; and so do we, with the like secu- 
rity, and a spirit of slumber, with unkindness. Notwithstanding all the pro- 
vocations that Christ useth to win us, he leaves us not, imtil he be left 
first, for he desires to have nearer acquaintance, communion, and fellowship 
with the soul, as we have seen in the former verse, ' My love, my dove, my 
undefiled, open to me,' &c. Therefore, if we do not enjoy more acquaint- 
ance with Christ than we do, and walk more in the comforts of the Holy 
Ghost, it is merely from our own indisposition and security, Acts ix. 31. 
Therefore, let us censure ourselves in this kind, and not call Christ an 
enemy, as if he had forgotten, and God had forsaken. Take heed of such 
a spirit of murmuring. If such a state befall us, let us labour to lay our 
hand upon om- mouth and to justify Christ. It is just with thee thus 
to leave me, to give me over to this terror, to deal thus with me, that have 
dealt so unkindly with thee. So to justify God, and accuse ourselves, is the 
best way to recover spiritual comfort. 

Ohs. 3. Well, for the third point. That howsoever Christ be provoked by 
the church's ingratitude, drowsiness, and careless carriage, to leave her in re- 
gard of her feeling, and of imvard comfort; yet notwithstanding he is so 
gracious, as to leave something behind him, that shews indeed, that he had not 
left the church altogether, hut only in some regard. For howsoever Christ, 
in regard of some order of his providence, leave it, yet in regard of another 
order of his providence, care and mercy, he doth not leave it, so as one way 
which he takes must sometimes give place to another way of his work- 
ing in ordering things. Sometimes he is present in a way of comfort, that 
is one order of his dispensation ; and Vv'hen he sees that that is neglected, 
thr5n he withdraws his comforts and hides his gracious countenance. Yet 
he is then present still in another order and way, though we discern it not, 
that is, in a way of humbling the soul, letting it see its sin. So here, 
howsoever Christ had withdrawn himself in regard of this manner of his 
dealing, in respect of comfort, that the church did not now see his grace, 
favour ; yet he left behind him a spirit of grace, to affect her heart with 
gi'ief, sorrow, and shame, and to stir up her endeavours to seek after him, 
as it is said here : ' I rose to open to my beloved ; and my hands dropped 
myrrh, and my fingers sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the 

Here observe these three things, which shall be briefly named, because 
they shall be touched elsewhere. 

Obs. 1. Christ's grace is the cause of our grace. He first leaves myrrh, 
and then her fingers drop myrrh. Our oil is from his oil. The head being 
anointed, ' the oil ran down to the skirts of Aaron's garments,' Ps. cxxxiii. 
2, xxxvi. 9 ; ' Out of his fulness we receive grace for grace,' John i. 16, 
that is, our grace is answerable to the grace of Christ. We have all from 
h im favour for his favour. Because he is beloved, we are beloved. Wo 

Cant. V. 6.] ' my beloved had withdrawn himself.' 105 

have tne grace of sanctification from him. He was sanctified with the 
Spirit, therefore we are sanctified. We have grace of privilege for his 
grace. He is the Son of God, therefore we are sons. He is the heir of 
heaven, therefore we are heirs. So that of his grace it is we receive all. 
Whether we take grace for favour, or for the grace of sanctification, or tho 
grace of privilege and prerogative, all our graces are from his, ' our myrrh 
from his myrrh.' 

Use. This should teach us, the necessity of dependence ujion Christ, for 
whatsoever we have or would have ; which dependence upon Christ is the 
life of our life, the soul of our souls. 

Again, observe from hence, that the church's fingers dropped myrrh 
when she opened the door, and stirred up herself to endeavour. When 
first her bowels were moved, then she makes to the door, and then her 
hands dropped myrrh, so that, 

Obs. 2. We find experience of the grace of Christ, especially when nx stir 
up ourselves to endeavour. ' Arise and be doing, and the Lord shall be with 
thee,' 1 Chron. xxviii. 20, saith David to Solomon. So let us rouse up 
ourselves to endeavour, and we shall find a gracious presence of Christ, 
and a blessed assistance of the Spirit of Christ, who will shew himself in 
the midst of endeavours. ' To him that hath shall be given :' what is that ? 
To him that hath, if he exercise and stir up the grace of God in him, 
shall be given, Mat. xxv. 29. Therefore, let us stir up the graces of 
God in us ; let us fall upon actions of obedience, second them with prayer. 
Whatsoever we pray for and desire, set upon the practice thereof. We 
mock God else, except we endeavour for that we desire. There was myrrh 
left on the door, but she feels it not till she arose, opened the door, and 
laid her hand upon the lock. 

I speak to any Christian's experience, if in the midst of obedience they do 
not find that comfort they looked for, and that it is meat and drink to do 
God's will. Therefore keep not off and say, I am dead and drowsy, there- 
fore I shall be still so. You are deceived ; fall upon obedience and practis- 
ing of holy duties, and in the midst thereof thou shalt find the presence and 
assistance of God's Spirit. That will comfort thee. 

Obs. 3. The third thing observable from hence is this, that God's graces 
are sweet. Pleasant and sweet, compared here to myrrh, which was an 
ingredient in the holy oil. Grace makes us sweet. Prayers are sweet, as 
it is in Rev. viii. 4. Christ mingleth them with his own sweet odours, and 
so takes and offers them to God. Holy obedience is sweet and delightful 
to God and to the conscience. It brings peace and delight to others. There- 
fore they are called fruits. Fruit doth not only imply and shew the issu- 
ing of good things from the root, but there is also a pleasantness in it. So 
there is a delightfulness in good works, as there is in fruit to the taste. 
Therefore if we would be sweet and delightful to God, let us labour to have 
grace. If we would think of ourselves with contentment, and have inward 
sweetness, let us labour for the graces of God's Spu-it. These are like 
myrrh. 'The v.icked are an abomination unto the Lord,' Prov. xv. 8, 
who abhors them, and whatsoever is in them. But ' the righteous and 
sincere man is his delight,' Prov. xv. 8. Therefore, if we would approve 
ourselves to God, and feel that he hath delight in us, labour to be such as 
he may delight in. 

Use. Wherefore let the discouraged soul make this use of it, not to be 
afraid to do that ivhich is good, upon fear ire should si)i. Indeed, sin will 
cleave to that we do, but Christ will pardon the sin, and accept that which 


is sweet of his OAvn Spirit. Let us not esteem basely of that which Christ 
esteems highly of, nor let that be vile in our eyes that is precious in his. 
Let us labour to bring our hearts to comfortable obedience, for it is a sweet 
sacrifice to God. 

Now, whence came all this ? From this that is mentioned, ' My beloved 
put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for 
him,' ver, 4. First, for that expression, he put his finger in by tJie hole 
of the door. It implies here that Christ, before he departed, left by his 
Spirit an impression on the church's heart, which deeply aftected her to 
seek after him. 

The fingers spoken of are nothing but ' the power of his Spirit.' As the 
usual Scripture phrase is, ' This is God's finger,' ' God's mighty hand,' 
Exod. viii. 19, without which all ordinances are ineffectual. ' Paul may 
plant, and Apollos may water,' 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7, but all is nothing without 
the working of the Spirit, the motions whereof are most strong, being God's 
finger, whereby he wrought all that affection in the church which is here 
expressed. Christ, before he leaveth the church, ' puts his finger into the 
hole of the door,' that is, he works somewhat in the soul by his Spirit, 
which stirred up a constant endeavour to seek after him. For why else 
follows it, ' her bowels were moved after him ' ? which implies a work of 
the Spirit upon her bowels, expressed in her grief for his absence, and shame 
for her refusing his entrance, and whereby her heart was moved and turned 
in her to seek after him. From whence, thus explained, observe, 

Ohs. 1. That outward means icill do no good, unless the finger of Christ 
come to do all that is good. 

The finger of Clnist is the Spirit of Christ — that is, a kind of divine 
power goes from him in hearing and speaking the word of God, and in 
prayer. There is more than a man's power in all this. If these work any 
efiect, Christ ' must put his finger in.' When duties are unfolded to us in 
the ministry of the word, all is to no purpose, but the sounding of a voice, 
unless the finger of Christ open the heart, and work in the soul. 

Use 1. Let us make this use of it, therefore, not to rest in any means 
whatsoever, but desire the presence of Christ's finger to move and to work 
upon our hearts and souls. Many careless Christians go about the ordi- 
nances of God, and never regard this power of Christ, this might}^ power, 
* the finger of Christ.' Thereupon they find nothing at all that is divine 
and spiritual wi'ought in them. For, as it required a God to redeem us, to 
take our nature, wherein he might restore us, so likewise it requires the 
power of God to alter our natures. We could not be brought into the state 
of grace without divine satisfaction, and we cannot be altered to a frame of 
grace without a di\'ine finger, the finger of God v/orking upon our hearts 
and souls. This should move us, in all the ordinances of God that we 
attend upon, to lift up our hearts in the midst of them, ' Lord, let me feel 
the finger of thy Spirit writing thy word upon my heart.' ' Turn us, 
Lord, and we shall be turned,' Jer. xxxi. 18. Pray for this quickening and 
enlivening, for this strengthening Spirit. All comes by it. 

From this that it is said here, ' that Christ puts his finger into the hole of 
the door before he removed it,' and withdrew himself, observe, 

Obs. 2. How graciously Christ doth deal with us, that he doth always leave 
some grace before he doth offer to depart. Let us therefore, for the time to 
come, lay and store this up as a ground of comfort, that howsoever Christ may 
leave us, yet, notwithstanding, he will never leave us wholly ; but as he 
gave us his Holy Spirit at first, so he will continue Him in us b}' some 

Cant. V. 6.] ' my beloved had withdrawn himself.' 107 

gi-acious work or other, either hy way of comfort, or of strength to uphold 
us. Perhaps we may need more sorrow, more humihty, than of any other 
grace. For winter is as good for the growing of things as the spring, because 
were it not for this, where would be the killing of weeds and worms, and 
preparhig of the ground and land for the spring ? So it is as needful for 
Christians to find the presence of Christ in the way of humiliation and 
abasement, causing us to afflict our own souls, as to feel his presence in 
peace, joy, and comfort. In this life we cannot be without this gracious 
dispensation. We may therefore comfort oui'selves, that howsoever Christ 
leaves us, yet he will ahvaj's leave somewhat behind him, as here he left 
some mjTrh after him upon the handle of the door. Some myi-rh is left 
always behind him upon the soul, which keeps it in a state and fi-ame of 
grace, and sweetens it. Myrrh was one of the ingredients in the holy oil, 
as it is Exod. xxx. 30 ; and so this leaving of myrrh behind him signifies 
the oil of gi'ace left upon the soul, that enabled the church to do all these 
things, which are after spoken of. 

Obj. But you will say. How doth this appear, when in some desertion 
a Christian finds no grace, strength, or comfort at all, that nothing is left ? 

Ans. It is answered, thcij always do. Take those who at any time have 
had experience of the love of God, and of Chi'ist formerly, take them at the 
worst, you shall find from them some sparkles of grace, broken speeches of 
tried secret comfort, some inward strength and struggling against corrup- 
tions ; their spirits endeavom'ing to recover themselves fi'om sinking too 
low, and with something withstanding both despair and corruption. Take 
a Christian at the worst, there will be a discovery of the Spirit of Christ 
left in him, notwithstanding all desertion. This is universally in all in 
some measure, though perhaps it is not discerned to a Christian himself, 
but to those that are able to judge. Sometimes others can read our evi- 
dences better than ourselves. A Christian that is in temptation cannot 
judge of his o\\ti estate, but others can. And so, at the very worst, he 
hath always somewhat left in him, whereby he may be comforted. Christ 
never leaves his church and childi-en that are his wholly. Those that are 
whoUy left, they never had saving grace, as Ahithophel, Cain, Saul, and 
Judas were left to themselves. But for the children of God, if ever they 
found the power of sanctif}dng grace, ' Christ whom he loves, ho loves to 
the end,' John xiii. 1, from whom he departs not, unless he leaves some- 
what behind him, that sets an edge upon the desires to seek after him. 

Use 2. Make this second use of it, to maf/nifij the gracious love and meraj 
of Christ, that when we deserve the contrary, to be left altogether, yet 
notwithstanding so graciously ho deals with us. Behold, in this his deal- 
ing, the mercy of Christ. He will not sufier the church to be in a state 
of security, but will rather, to cure her, bring her to another opposite state 
of grief and sorrow, as we shall see in the next point, how that which 
Christ left in the heart of the church so afflicted her ' that her bowels were 
turned in her.' Whereupon she riseth, seeks, and inquhes after Christ by 
the watchmen and others. So she saith of herself, 

' My bowels were moved in me,' &c. What was that? My heart was 
afiected full of sorrow and gi'ief for my unkind dealing with Christ. 
Hereby those aftections were sthred up, that were afore sleepy and secure, 
to godly gi'ief, soitow, and shame. For God hath planted atiectious in us, 
and joined them with conscience, as the executioners with the judge. Sa 
that, whenas conscience accuseth of any sin, either of omission or com- 
mission, aftections arc ready to be the executioners within us. Thus to 


prevent eternal damnation, God hath set up a throne in our owm hearts, to 
take revenge and correction by our own affections, godly sorrow and mourn- 
ing, as here the church saith, ' My bowels were turned in me.' It was a 
shame and gi'ief, springing out of love to Christ, that had been so kind, 
patient, and full of forbearance to her. ' My bowels were turned in me ;' 
that is, sorrow and grief were upon me for my unkind dealing. 
The observation from hence is, 

That security and a cold, dull state jjroduceth a contrary temper. That is, 
those that are cold, dull, secure, and put off Christ, he suffers them to fall 
into sharp sorrows and griefs. 

We usually say, Cold diseases must have hot and sharp remedies. It is 
most true spiritually. Security, which is a kind of lethargy, a cold disease, 
forgetting of God and our duty to him, must have a hot and sharp cure. 
And the lethargy is best cured by a burning ague. So Christ deals here. 
He puts his finger in at the hole of the door, and leaves grace behind to 
work upon the bowels of the church, to make her grieve and be ashamed 
for her unkind dealing. Thus he cures security by sorrow. This is the 
best conclusion of sin. 

And we may observe withal, that even sins of ornission, they bring yrief, 
shame, and sorrow. And in the issue, through Christ's sanctifying them, 
these which they breed consume the parent. That is, sin brings forth 
sorrow, shame, and grief, which are a means to cure sin. Security breeds 
this moving of the bowels, which moving helps security. Would we there- 
fore prevent sorrow, shame, and grief? Take heed then of security, the 
cause that leads to them ; yea, of sins of omission, wherein there is more 
danger than in sins of commission. The sins of carnal, wicked men are 
usually sins of commission ; most which break out outrageously, and thereby 
taint themselves with open sins. But the sins of God's people, who are 
nearer to him, are for the most part sins of omission ; that is, negligence, 
coldness, carelessness in duty, want of zeal, and of care they should have 
in stirring up the graces of God in them ; as the ehui'ch here, which did 
not give way to Christ, nor shook off security. 

Use. Let us esteem as slightly as we will of sins of omission and care- 
lessness, they are enough to bring men to hell if God be not the more mercifid. 
It is not required only that we do no harm, and keep ourselves from out- 
ward evils ; but we must do good in a good manner, and have a care to be 
fruitful and watchful, which if we do not, this temper will bring grief, 
shame, and sorrow afterwards. As here, even for sins of omission, dead- 
ness, and dulness, we see the church is left by Christ, ' and her bowels are 
turned in her.' For careless neglect and omission of duty to God is a 
presage and forerunner of some downfal and dejection. And commonly 
it is true, when a man is in a secure and careless state, a man may read 
his destiny (though he have been never so good) ; na}^ the rather if he be 
good. Such a one is in danger to fall into some sharp punishment, or into 
some sin ; for of all states and tempers, God will not suffer a Christian to 
be in a secure, lazy, dead state, when he cannot perfonn things comfort- 
ably to God, or himself, or to others. A dead, secure estate is so hateful 
to him (decay in our first love, this lukewarm temper) that he will not en- 
dure it. It either goes before some great sin, cross, affliction, or judgment. 
' My bowels were moved in me.' And good reason. It was a suitable 
correction to the sin wherein she offended. For Christ, his bowels were 
turned towards her in love and pity, ' My love, my dove, my undefiled,' in 
which case, she neglecting him, it was fit she should find ' moving of 

Cant. V. 6.] ' my beloved had withdrawn himself.' 109 

bowels' in another sense, out of love too, but in shame and mourning. 
Christ here leaves her to seek after him, that had waited and attended her 
leisure before, as we shall see after. 

The next thing we may hence observe in that, ' that her bowels were 
tui-ned in her,' from something left in the hole of the door by the Spirit of 
Christ, is. 

That Christ hath our affections in his government. 

He hath our bowels in his rule and government, more than we ourselves 
have. Wo cannot of ourselves rule our grief, shame, sorrow, or such 
affections as these. Tbp wisest man in the world cannot award- grief and 
sorrow when God will turn it upon his bowels, and make a man ashamed 
and confounded in himself. All the wit and policy in the world cannot 
suppress those affections. For Christ rules our hearts, * The hearts of 
kings are in his hand, as the rivers of water,' Prov. xxi. 1, as well as the 
hearts of ordinary persons. 

If he set anything upon the soul to afflict it and cast it down, it shall 
afflict it, if it be but a conceit. If he will take away the reins from the 
soul, and leave it to its own passion, removing away its guard ; for he by 
his Spirit guards our souls with peace, by commanding of tranquillity ; so 
as let him but leave it to itself, and it will tear itself in sunder, as Ahitho- 
phel, who being left to himself, did tear himself in pieces, 2 Sam. xvii. 23. 
Cain also being thus left, was disquieted, toiTQented, and wrackedf himself, 
Gen. iv. 13. So Judas in this case, being divided in himself, you see what 
became of him, Mat. sxvii. 5. Let Christ but leave us to our own passion of 
soiTow, what will become of us but misery ? He hath more rule therefore 
of our passions than we ourselves have, because we cannot rule them gra- 
ciously, nor can we stay them when we would. 

Use. Therefore this should st)~ike an awe in tis of God, ivith a care to please 
him. For there is not the wisest man in the world, but if he remove his 
guard from his soul, and leave him to himself ; if there were no de\al in 
hell, yet he would make him his own toimentor and executioner. There- 
fore the apostle makes this sweet promise. He bids them pray to God ; 
' and the peace of God which passeth all understanding should guard 
their souls,' &c., Philip, iv. 7. So the word is in the original. I It is a 
great matter for the keeping of God's people, to have their souls guarded. 

' Her bowels were turned in her.' 

Here again, as the conclusion of all this, we seeing this estate of the church, 
may wonder at Christ's carriage towards her in this tvorld. Christ is wonderful 
in his saints, and in his goodness towards them, 2 Thess. i. 10; sometimes 
alluring them, as we see Christ the church here; wondrous in patience, not- 
withstanding their provocation of him ; wondrous in his desertions ; wondrous 
in leaving something behind him in desertions. Those that are his he will 
not leave them without grace, whereby they shall seek him again. Nay, the 
falling out of lovers shall be the renewing of fresh and new love, more 
constant than ever the former was. Thus om- blessed Saviour goes beyond 
us in our deserts, taking advantage even of our security ; for our greater 
good, making all work to good in the issue, Kom. viii. 28 ; which shall end 
in a more near and close communion between Christ and his church than 
ever before. Carnal men feel not these changes, ebbings and flowings. 
They are not acquainted with God's forsakings. Indeed their whole life is 
nothing but a forsaking of God, and God's forsaking of them, who gives 

* That is. ' ward off.'— Ed. J See note k, vol I. page 334.— G. 

t Qu. Tacked?'— G. 


them outward comforts, peace and friends in the world, wherein they solace 
themselves. But for inward communion with him, any strength to holy 
duties, or against sin, for to be instruments for God's honour, and service, 
to do any good, they are careless. For they live here to serve their own 
tmTis, leaving their state and inheritance behind them. The Scripture 
saith, ' They have no changes, therefore they fear not God,' Ps. Iv. 19 ; 
and so they go down to hell quietly and securely. Oh ! but it is otherwise 
with God's children. They are tossed up and down. God will not suffer 
them to prosper, or live long in a secure, drowsy, sinful state, the continu- 
ance wherein is a fearful evidence that such an one as yet hath no saving grace, 
nor that he yet belongs to God, seeing Christ hates such an estate, and 
will not sufier his to be long therein, but will shift and remove them from 
vessel to vessel, from condition to condition, till he have wrought in them 
that disposition of soul that they shall regard and love him more and more, 
and have nearer and nearer communion with him. 


I opened to my beloved; hut my beloved had uithdrawn himself and was 
gone: my soul failed when he spake ; I sought him, but could not find him; 
I called him, but he gave no answer. — Cant. V. 6. 

Thus we see that the life of a Christian is trouble upon trouble, as wave 
upon wave. God will not suffer us to rest in security, but one way or 
other he will fire us out of our starting-holes, and make us to run after 
him. How much better were it for us, then, to do our works cheerfully and 
joyfully, ' so to run as we may obtain,' 1 Cor. ix. 24, than to be thus hurried 
up and down, and through our own default, coming into desertions, and 
there receiving rebukes and blows and delays ere we have peace again, as 
it fell out with the church in the sequel ; for this text is but the beginning 
of her seeming misery. The watchmen, after this, ' found her, and 
wounded her,' &c., verse 7. But heaven is more worth than all, now that 
her affections are set on fire. From thence she bestirs herself, is resolute 
to find out her beloved, whom she highly values above all this world. How 
her afiections were stirred by Christ's putting in his finger at the hole of 
the door, we have heard. Now follows her action thereupon ; for here is 
rising, opening, seeking, calling, and inquiring after Christ. 

Action follows aftection. After her bowels are moved, she ariseth and 
openeth ; from whence we may further observe — 

Obs. 1. That where truth of affection is, it ivill discover itself in the out- 
tvard man, one way or other. If there be any affection of love and piety to 
God, there will be eyes hft up, knees bended down, and hands stretched 
forth to heaven. If there be any grief for sin, there will be the face de- 
jected, the eyes looking down, some expression or other. If there be a 
desire, there "svill be a making forth to the thing desired ; for the outward 
man is commanded by the inward, which hath a kind of sovereign com- 
manding power over it, and says, Do this, and it doth it ; Speak this, and 
it speaks it. Therefore, those whose courses of life are not gracious, their 
affections and their hearts are not good ; for where the affections are good, 
the actions will be suitable. ' Her bowels were moved in her,' and pre- 
sently she shews the truth of her affection, in that she maketh after him. 

Cant. V. G.J ' my beloved had withdrawn himself.' Ill 

1. Her soul failed when he spake. 

2. iShe makes after him. 

* My soul failed when be spake : I sought him, but I could not find him.' 
— Of Christ's withdrawing himself, we spake in general before, wherefore 
we will leave that and proceed. 

' My soul failed when he spake.' That is, her soul failed when she re- 
membered what he had spoke when he stood at the door and said, ' Open 
to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled : for my head is wet with 
the dew,' &c. Now, when God's Spirit had wi-ought upon her, then she 
remembered what Christ had said. All those sweet allm-ements were 
effectual now unto her, especially when she saw that after those sweet 
allurements Christ had withdrawn himself; for that is the meaning oi 
these words, ' My soul failed when he spake unto me.' He did not speak 
now ; but her soul failed after he s])ake ; for so it should be read, that is, 
after she remembered his speech to her ; for now, when she opened, he was 
not there. Therefore, he could not speak to her. 

Ohs. 2. The word of Christ, hoivsoever for the jyresent it be not effectual, yet 
aftericards it icill be in the remembrance of it. To those that are gracious, 
it will be efiectual when the Holy Ghost comes to seal it further upon 
their hearts. Christ spake many things to his disciples which they forgot ; 
but when afterwards the Holy Ghost the Comforter was come, his office 
was, ' to bring all things to their remembrance that they had forgotten 
before,' John xiv. 26. The Holy Ghost taught them not new things, but 
brought former things to their remembrauce ; for God will make the word 
efiectual at one time or other. Perhaps the word we hear is not effectual 
for the present ; it may afterwards, many years after, when God awakes 
our consciences. 

And as this is true of God's children, the seed now sown in them will 
not grow up till many years after, so it is true also of those that are not 
God's children. They think they shall never hear again of those things 
they hear. Perhaps they will take order by sensuality, hardening of their 
hearts, and through God's judgments withal concurring, that conscience 
shall not awake in this world. But it shall awake one day ; for it is put 
into the heart to take God's part, and to witness against us for our sins. 
It shall have and perform its office hereafter, use it as you will now ; and it 
will preach over those things again that you now hear. You shall hear 
again of them, but it shall be a barren hearing. Now we may hear fruit- 
fully to do us good, but afterwards we shall call to mind what we have 
heard, and it shall cut us to the heart. Dives, we know, had Moses and 
the prophets to instruct him, but he never heeded them in his hfe, until 
afterwards to his toi-ment, Luke xvi. 29. So men never heed what they 
hear and read ; they put off all, and lay their consciences asleep ; but God 
will bring them afterwards to remembrance. But because it is a point 
especially of comfort to the church ; 

Labour u-e all of us to mahc this use of it, to be diligent and careful to 
hear and attend upon the ordinances of God ; for howsoever that we hear 
is not effectual for the present, but seems as dead seed cast into the heart, 
yet God will give it a body after, as the apostle speaks, at one time or 
other, 1 Cor. xv. 38. And that which we hear now, the Holy Ghost will 
bring it to our remembrance when we stand in most need of it. 

' My soul failed when he spake.' She was in a spmtual sv/oon and 
deliquium* upon his withdrawing, whence the point considerable is, 
* That is, ' fainting, sinking.' — G. 


That Christ doth leave his church sometimes, and bring it very low in their 
own apprehensions, that their hearts fail them, for want of his presence. So 
it was with David, Ps. xxxviii. 2, 3 ; so with Jonah, Jonah ii. 2 ; so with 
the church, Lam. iii. 1, seq. We see it at large. 

Reason. The necessity of our souls and of our estates require this. As 
sometimes a body may be so corrupt, that it must be brought as low as 
possible may be, before there will be a spring of new and good blood and 
spirits, so we may fall into such a state of security, that nothing will bring 
us to a right temper but extreme purging. And usually God deals thus 
with strong wits and parts, if they be holy. David and Solomon were men 
excellently qualified ; yet when they tasted of the pleasures and content- 
ments of the world too deep, answerably they had ; and so usually others 
shall have such desertions as will make them smart for their sweetness, as 
was shewed before. 

But upon what occasions doth a Christian think especially that God doth 
leave, forsake, and fail him ? 

First. This failing and fainting of the soul is sometimes upon an appre- 
hension, as if God and Christ ivere become enemies, as Job saith, vii. 20, 
and as having set us as a butt to shoot at. But this is not all that a 
gracious and pure heart sinks for. 

But also secondly. For the absence of Christ^ s love, thoiiyh it feel no anger. 
Even as to a loving wife, her husband not looking lovingly upon her as he 
used to do, is enough to cast her down, and cause her spirits to fail ; so 
for God to look upon the eoul, put the case, not with an angry, yet with a 
countenance withdrawn, it is sufficient to cast it down. For any one that 
hath dependence upon another, to see their countenance withdrawn, and- 
not to shew their face as before, if there be but a sweet disposition in them, 
it is enough to daunt and dismay them. 

Nay, thirdly. Moreover, u-hen they find not that former assistance in holy 
duties ; when they find that their hearts are shut up and they cannot pray 
as formerly when they had the Spirit of God more fully ; and when they 
find that they cannot bear afflictions with wonted patience — certainly Christ 
hath withdrawn himself, say they. This is first done when we hear the 
word of God, not with that delight and profit as we were wont. "When they 
find how they come near to God in holy communion, and yet feel not that 
sweet taste and relish in the ordinances of God as they were wont to do, 
they conclude, certainly God hath hid his face. Whereupon they are cast 
down, their spirits fail. And do not wonder that it should be so, for it is 
so in nature. When the sun hides itself many days from the world, it is an 
uncomfortable time ; the spirits of the creatures lower and wither. We see 
it so in the body, that the animal spirits in the brain, which are the cause 
of motion and sense, if they be obstructed, there follows an apoplexy and 
deadness. So it is between Christ and the soul. He is the ' Sun of 
righteousness,' Mai. iv. 2, by whose beams we are all comforted and cheered, 
which when they are vrithheld, then our spirits decay and are discouraged. 
Summer and winter arise from the presence and absence of the sun. What 
causeth the spring to be so clothed with all^those rich ornaments ? The pre- 
sence of the sun which comes nearer then. So what makes the summer 
and winter in the soul, but the absence or presence of Christ ! What makes 
some so vigorous beyond others, but the presence of the Spirit ! As it is 
in nature, so it is here. The presence of Christ is the cause of all spiri- 
tual life and vigom-; who when he withdraws his presence a little the 
soul fails. 

Can:. V. G.] ' i sought him, but i could not find him.' 118 

' My soul failed when he spake to me : I sought him, but I could not find 
him ; I called, but he gave me no answer.' 

Obs. 1. The church redoubleth her complaint to shew her passion. A 
larqe heart hath larr/e expressions. She took it to heart that Christ did not 
shew himself in mercy. Therefore she never hath done. I sought him 
but I could not find him, I called but he gave me no answer. Atiection 
makes eloquent and large expressions. 

Obs. 2. But mainly observe from this failing of the church, the differ- 
ence between the true children of God and others. The child of God is cast 
down when he finds not the presence of God as he was wont ; his spirits 
fail. A carnal man, that never knew what this presence meant, regards it 
not, can abide the want of it. He finds, indeed, a presence of God in the 
creature which he thinks not of. There is a sweetness in meat, drink, rest, 
and a contentment in honour, preferment, and riches ; and thus God is 
present always with him, but other presence he cares not for. Nay, he 
shuns all other presence of God, labouring to avoid his spiritual presence. 
For what is the reason that a carnal man shuns the applying of the word 
and the thinking of it, but because it brings God near to his heart, and 
makes him present ? What is the reason he shuns his own conscience ; 
that he is loath to hear the just and unanswerable accusations that it would 
charge upon him, but because he cannot abide the presence of God in his 
conscience ? What is the reason he shuns the sight of holier and better 
men than himself? 1 Kings xvii. 18. They present God to him, being his 
ima^e, and call his sins to memory, and upbraid his wicked life. Hence 
comes that Satanical hatred more than human in carnal, vile men, to those 
that are better than themselves ; because they hate all presence of God, 
both in the word, ministry, and all God's holy servants. All such presence 
of God they hate ; whereof one main reason is, because they are malefac- 
tors, wicked rebels, and intend to be so. And as a malefactor cannot 
endure so much as the thought of the judge, so they cannot think of God 
otherwise, in that course they are in, than of a judge ; whereupon they 
tremble and quake at the very thought of him, and avoid his presence. 

You know that great man, Felix, Paul spake to in the Acts, Acts xxiv. 25, 
when he spake of the judgment to come, and those virtues, as temperance 
and righteousness, which he was void of, and guilty of the contrary vices ; 
he quaked, and could not endure to hear him speak any longer. Wicked 
men love not to be arraigned, tormented, accused, and condemned before 
their time, Mark v. 7. Therefore, whatsoever presents to them their future 
terrible estate, they cannot abide it. It is an evidence of a man in a cursed 
condition, thus not to endure the presence of God. But what shall God 
and Christ say to them at the day of judgment ? It was the desu-e of such 
men not to have to do with the presence of God here, and it is just with 
Christ to answer them there as they answer him now ; ' Depart, depart, we 
will have none of thy ways,' say they. Job xxii. 17. < Depart, ye cursed,' 
saith he. He doth but answer in their own language, ' Depart, ye cursed, 
with the devil and his angels,' Mat. xxv. 41. 

But you see the child of God is clean of another temper. He cannot bo 
content to be without the presence of God and of his Spirit, enlightening, 
quickening, strengthening, and blessing of him in spiritual respects. When 
he finds not his presence helping him, when he finds Christ his life is 
absent from him, he is presently discouraged. For ' Christ is our life,' 
Col. iii. 4. Now, when a man's life fails all fails. When, therefore, a man 
finds his spu-itual taste and comfort not as it was before, then Oh, ' the hfo 

VOL. U. B 


of my life ' hath withdrawn himself, and so is never quiet till he have reco- 
vered his life again, for ' Christ is his life,' Col. iii. 4. 

And because there is a presence of God and of Christ in the word and 
sacraments — a sweet presence, the godly soul, he droops and fails if he be 
kept from these. He will not excommunicate himself, as many do, that 
perhaps are asleep when they should be at the ordinances of God. But if 
he be excommimicated and banished, how takes he it to heart ! ' As the 
hart panteth after the water brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, God,' 
Ps, xlii. 1. The whole 84th Psalm is to that purpose, ' how amiable are 
thy tabernacles, Lord of hosts.' He finds a presence of God in his word 
and sacraments, and when he doth not taste a sweet presence of God there- 
in, he droops and sinks. 

A carnal man never heeds these things, because he finds no sweetness in 
them ; but the godly, finding Christ in them, they droop in the want of 
them, and cannot live without them. * Whither shall we go ?' saith Peter to 
Christ, ' thou hast the words of eternal life,' John \'i. 68. I find my soul 
quickened with thy speaking. So a soul that feels the quickening power of 
the ordinances, he will never be kept from the means of salvation, but he 
droops and is never well till he have recovered himself again. 

Again, another difierence may be observed. Carnal men, when they find 
the sense of God's anger, they seek not God's favour, but think of worse and 
worse still, and- so run from God till they be in hell. But those that ara 
God's children, when they fail and find the sense of God's displeasure, they 
are sensible of it, and give not over seeking to God. They run not further 
and further from him. 

The church here, though she found not Christ present with her, yet she 
seeks him still and never gives over. Whence again we may observe, 

3. That although the church he said to fail and not to /i?id Christ, yet he 
is present then uith her. For who enabled her to seek him ? To explain 
this, there is a double presence of Christ. 

1. Felt. 

2. Not felt. 

1. The presence felt, is, when Christ is graciously present and is withal 
pleased to let us know so much, which is a heaven upon earth. The soul 
is in paradise then, when she feels ' the love of God shed abroad in the 
heart,' and the favom-able countenance of God shining upon her. Then she 
despiseth the world, the devil, and all, and walks as if she were half in 
heaven already. For she finds a presence and a manifestation of it, a more 
glorious state than the world can afford. 

2. But, there is a presence of Christ that is secret; when he seems to 
draw us one way, and to drive us another, that we are both driven and 
drawn at once : when he seems to put us away, and yet, notwithstanding, 
draws us. When we find our souls go to Christ, there is a drawing power 
and presence ; but when we find him absent, here is a driving away. As we 
see here in the church and in the 'woman of Canaan,' Mat. xv. 21, seq. 
Wo see what an answer she had from Christ, at first none, and then an 
uncomfortable, and lastly a most unkind answer. ' We must not give the 
children's bread to dogs,' Mat. xv. 27. Christ seemed to drive her 
away, but, at the same time, he by his Spirit draws her to him, and was 
thereby secretly present in her heart to increase her faith. When Christ 
wrestled with Jacob, though he contended with him, yet the same time he 
gave Jacob power to overcome him, to be Israel, a prevailer over him. Gen. 
xxxii. 28. So, at the same time, the church seems to fail and faint, yet, 

Cant. V. G.] ' i sought him, but i could not find him.' 115 

notwithstanding, there is a secret, drawing power pulling her to Christ; 
whereby she never gives over, but seeks and calls still after him. 

It is good to observe this kind of Christ's dealing, because it will keep 
us that we be not discouraged when we find him absent. If still there be 
any grace left moving us to that which is good, if we find the Spmt of God 
moving us to love the word and ordinances, to call upon him by prayer, 
and to be more instant, certainly we may gather there is a hidden, secret 
presence here that draws us to these things. Nay more, that the end of 
this seeming forsaking and strangeness is to draw us nearer and nearer, 
and at length to di-aw us into heaven to himself. God's people are gainers 
by all their losses, stronger by all theii' weaknesses, and the better for all 
their crosses, whatsoever they ai"e. And you shall find that the Spirit of 
God is more forceible in them after a strangeness, to stir them up more 
eagerly after Christ than before, as here the church doth : for her eagerness, 
constancy, and instantness, it groweth as Christ's withdrawing of himself 

Use 1. Let us therefore learn hence how to judge of ourselves, if we be in 
a dead, lifeless state, both in regard of comfort and of holy performances, 
whether we be content to be so. If we be not contented, but make to- 
wards Christ more and more, it is a good sign that he hath not forsaken 
us, that he will come again more gloriously than ever before, as here we 
shall see after, it was with the church. He seems strange, but it is to 
draw the church to discover her affection, and to make her ashamed of 
her former unkindness, and to sit surer and hold faster than she did before. 
All ends in a most sweet communion. 

Use 2. We should labour, therefore, to ansicer Christ's dealings in suitable 
apprehensions of soul, when he is thus present secretly, though he seem, in 
regard of some comforts and former experience of his love, to withdi-aw 
himself. It should teach us to depend upon him, and to believe, though 
we feel not comfort, yea, against comfort, when we feel signs of displeasure. 
If he can love and support me, and strengthen my soul, and shew it a 
presence of that which is fit for me, certainly I should answer thus with 
my faith, I will depend upon him, though he kill me, as Job did, Job 
xiii. 15. Our souls should never give over seeking of Christ, praying 
and endeavouring, for there is true love where he seems to forsake and 
leave. Therefore I ought in these desertions to cleave to him in life and 
in death. 


I opened to my beloved ; but my beloved had ivithdrau'n himself, and was gone : 
my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I 
called him, but he gave me no answer. — Cant. V. G, 7. 

The pride and security of the spouse provokes the Lord, her husband, oft 
to bring her veiy low, they being incompatible with Christ's residence. 

Pride is an affection contrary to his jn'erogative ; for it sets up somewhat 
in the soul higher than God, the highest. 

Security is a dull temper, or rather distemper, that makes the soul 
neglect her watch, and rely upon some outward privilege. ^\'Tierc this ill 


couple is entertained, there Christ useth to withdraw himself, even to the 
failing and fainting of the soul. 

The spouse is here in her fainting fit, yet she seeks after Christ. Still 
she gives not over. So Jonah, ' I am cast out of thy presence,' says he, 
' yet notwithstanding I will look toward thy holy temple,' Jonah ii. 4. 
And David, ' I said in my haste, I am cast out of thy sight ; yet notwith- 
standing thou heardest the voice of my prayer,' Ps. xxxi. 22. He said it, 
but he said it in his haste. God's children are surprised on the sudden to 
think they are cast away ; but it is in haste, and so soon as may be, they 
recover themselves. * I said it is my infirmity,' said David, Ps. Ixxvii. 10. 
It is but in a passion. Here then is the difierence between the children of 
God and others in desertions ; they arise, these lie still and despair. 
There is ' life in the substance of the oak,' Isa. vi. 13, that makes it lift up 
its head above ground, though it be cut down to the stumps. Nay, we see 
foi'ther here, the chm'ch is not taken off for any discouragements, but her 
faith grows stronger, as the woman's of Canaan did. Mat. xv. 21, seq. 

The reason whereof is — 1, faith looks to the promise, and to the nature 
of God, not to his present dealing. 

And then, 2. God, by a secret work of his Spirit, though he seem to be 
an enemy, yet notwithstanding draws his children nearer and nearer to 
him by such his dealing. All this strangeness is but to mortify some 
former lust, or consume some former dregs of security. 

' I sought him, but I could not find him.' Here one of the greatest 
discouragements of all other is, when prayer, which is left to the church as 
a salve for all sores, hath no answer. This is the complaint, but indeed 
an error, of the church ; for Christ did hear the church, though he seemed 
to turn his back. 

But how shall we know that God hears our prayers ? 

First. Amongst many other things this is one. When he gives us 
inward peace, then he hears our prayers, for so is the connection, Phil. iv. 
6, 7. 

Or secondly. If we find a spirit to pray still, a spirit to wait and to hold 
out, it is an argument that God either hath or will hear those prayers. 

And as it is an argument that God hears our prayers, so is it of the pre- 
sence of Christ. For how could we pray but from his inward presence ? 
Christ was now present, and more present with the church when he seemed 
not to be found of her, than he was when she was secure ; for whence else 
comes this eagerness of desire, this spirit of prayer, this earnestness of 
seeking? ' I called, but he gave no answer,' &c. 

Directions hoiv to carry ourselves in such an estate. How shall we cany 
ourselves when it falls out that our hearts fail of that we seek for, when we 
pray without success, and find not a present answer, or are in any such-like 
state of desertion. 

1. We must believe against belief, as it were, * hope against hope, and 
trust in God,' Eom. iv. 18, howsoever he shews himself to us as an oppo- 
site.* It is no matter what his present dealing with his church and chil- 
dren here is ; the nature of faith is to break through all opposition, to see 
the sun behind a cloud, nay, to see one contrary in another, life in death, 
a calm in a storm, &c., 1 Cor. \i. 8, 9, seq. 

2. Labour for an absolute dependence 2ipon Christ, uith a poverty of spirit 
m ourselves. This is the end of Christ's withdrawing himself, to purge us 
of self-confidence and pride. 

* That is, ' opponent. — G. 

Cant. V. 0,7.] ' i called iiim, but he cave me no answer.' 117 

3. Stir up your graces. For fis nature joining with physic helps it to 
work and carry away the malignant humours, so hy the remainder of tho 
Spirit that is in us, let us set all our graces on work until we have carried 
away that that offends and clogs the soul, and not sink under the hurdcn. 
For this is a special time for the exercising of faith, hope, love, diligence, 
care, watchfulness, and such-like graces. 

And let us know for our comfort, that even this conflicting condition is a 
good estate. In a sick hody it is a sign of life and health approaching 
when the humom's arc stirred, so as that a man complains that tho physic 
works. So when we take to heart our present condition, though we fail 
and find not what we would, yet this will work to the subduing of corrup- 
tion at length. It is a sign of future victory when we are discontent with 
our present ill estate. Grace will get the upper hand, as nature doth when 
the humours are disturbed. 

4. Again, when we are in such a seeming forlorn estate, let ns have 
recourse to former experience. What is the reason that God vouchsafes his 
children for the most part in the beginning of their conversion, in their first 
love, experience of his love to ravishment ? It is, that afterwards they 
may have recourse to that love of God then felt, to support themselves, and 
withal to stir up endeavours, and hope ; that finding it not so well with 
them now as formerly it hath been, by comparing state with state, desires 
may be stirred up to be as they were, or rather better, Hosea ii. 7. 

And as the remembrance of former experiences serve to excite endeavour, 
so to stir up hope, I hope it shall be as it was, because God is immuta- 
ble ; I change, but Christ alters not. The inferior elementary world changes. 
Here is fair weather and foul, but the sun keeps his perpetual course. And 
as in the gloomiest day that ever was, there was hght enough to make it 
day and to distinguish it from night, though the sun did not shine, so in 
the most disconsolate state of a Christian soul, there is light enough, in the 
soul to shew that the Sun of righteousness is there, and that Christ hath 
shined upon the soul, that it is day with the soul, and not night, Ps. cxii. 4. 

5. And learn when we are in this condition to wait God's leisure, for he 
hath waited ours. It is for our good, to prepare us for further blessmgs, 
to mortify and subdue our corruptions, to enlarge the capacity of the soul, 
that the Lord absents himself. Therefore Bernard saith well, ' Tihi accidit,' 
&c., ' Christ comes and goes away for our good.' When he withdraws the 
sense of his love, the soul thereupon is stretched with desire, that it may 
be as it was in fonner time, in the days of old. Thus much for that. ' I 
sought, but could not find him : I called, but he gave me no answer.' 

Obj. Here we must answer one objection before we leave the words. 
This seems to contradict other Scriptures, which promise that those that 
seek shall find. Matt. vii. 7. 

Ans. It is true they that seek shall find, but not presently. God's times 
are the best and fittest. They that seek shall find, if they seek constantly 
with their whole heart in all the means. Some do not find, because they 
seek in one means and not in another. They seek Christ in reading and 
not in the ordinance of hearing, in private meditation, but not in the com- 
munion of saints. We must go through all means to seek Christ, not one 
must be left. Thus if we will seek him, undoubtedly he will make good his 
promise. Nay, in some sort, ' he is found before he is sought,' for he is in 
our souls to stur up desire of seeking him. He prevents us with desires, 
and answers us in some sort before we pray, Isa. Ixv. 24. When he fjives 
us a spirit of prayer, it is a pledge to us, that he means to answer us. 


Therefore it is a spiritual deceit when we think Christ is not in us, and 
we are neglected of him, because we have not all that we would have. 
Among many other deceits that Christians deceive themselves with iu this 
kind, these be two. 

1. That they judge grace by the quantity and not by the value and price of 
it ; whereas the least measure of grace and comfort is to be esteemed, 
because it is an immortal seed cast into the soul by an immortal God, the 
Father of eternity,- Isa. ix. 6. 

2. Another deceit is, that we judge of ourselves hy sense and feeling, and 
not hy faith. 

' The watchman that went about the city found me, and smote me, and 
took away my veil from me.' Here the poor church, after the setting down 
of her own exercise in her desertion, now sets out some outward ill deal- 
ing she met with, and that from those that should have been her greatest 
comforters. * The watchmen that went about the city found me, they 
wounded me : the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.' 

Thus we see how trouble follows trouble. ' One depth calls upon another.' 
Inward desertion and outward affliction go many times together. The 
troubles of the church many times are like Job's messengers. They come 
fast one upon another, because God means to perfect the work of grace in 
their hearts. All this is for their good. The sharper the winter the better 
the spring. Learn hence first of all therefore in general. 

That it is no easy thing to he a sound Christian. We see here, when the 
church had betrothed herself to Christ and entertained him into her garden, 
thereafter she falls into a state of security and sleep, whence Christ labours 
to rouse her up. Then she useth him unkindly. After which he withdraws 
himself, even so far that her heart fails her. Then, as if this were not enough, 
the watchmen that should have looked to her, ' they smite her, wound her, 
and take away her veil.' See here the variety of the usage of the church 
and changes of a Christian ; not long in one state, he is ebbing and flowing. 

Therefore let none distaste the way of godliness for this, that it is such 
a state as is subject to change and variety, whereas carnal men are upon 
their lees and find no changes. 

Obj. But you will say. All Chi-istians are not thus tossed up and down, 
so deserted of God and persecuted of others. 

A71S. I answer, indeed there is difierence. Whence comes this diffei-- 
ence ? From God's liberty. It is a mystery of the sanctuary, which no man 
in the world can give a reason of, why of Christians both equally beloved of 
God, some should have a fairer passage to heaven, others rougher and more 
rugged. It is a mystery hid in God's breast. It is sufficient for us, if 
God will bring us any way to heaven, as the blessed apostle saith, ' if by 
any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead,' Phil. iii. 11 ; 
either through thick or thin, if God will bring me to heaven it is no matter. 
' If I by any means.' 

' The watchmen that went about the city smote me,' &c. By the watch- 
men here are meant especially governors of state and church. 

Why are they called watchmen ? 

It is a borrowed speech, taken from the custom of cities that are be- 
leaguered. For policy's sake they have watchmen to descry the danger they 
are liable unto. So magistrates be watchmen of the state. Ministers are 
the watchmen for souls, ' watching over our souls for good,' Heb. xiii. 17. 

Quest. Why doth God use watchmen ? 

* That is, thu ' Everlastinp; Father' of authorised translation. — G. 

CaNT.V. 6,7.j ' I CALLED HIM, BUT HE GA^^: ME NO ANSWER.' 119 

Ans. 1, Not for any defect of power in him, but for demonstration of his 
goodness. For he is the gi-cat watchman, who watcheth over our common- 
wealths, churches, and persons. He hath an eye that never sleeps. ' Ho 
that watcheth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps,' Ps. cxxi. 4. Yet not- 
withstanding he hath subordinate watchmen, not for defect of power, but 
for demonstration of goodness. He manifests his goodness in that he will 
use variety of subordinate watchers. 

And likewise to shew his power in using many instruments, and his caro 
for us when he keeps us together with his own subordinate means. 

And in this that God hath set over us watchers, ministers especially, it 
implies that our souls are in danger. And indeed there is nothing in the 
world so beset as the soul of a poor Christian. Who hath so many and 
so bad enemies as a Christian ? and amongst them all, the worst and 
greatest enemj^ he hath is nearest to him, and converseth daily with him, 
even himself. Therefore there must needs be watchmen to discover the 
deceits of Satan and his instruments, and of our own hearts ; to discover 
the dangers of Jerusalem, and the errors and sins of the times wherein we 
live. The church is in danger, for God hath set watchmen. Now God and 
nature doth nothing in vain or needlessly. 

Again, in that God takes such care for the soul, it shews the wondrous 
worth of it. Many arguments there be to shew that the soul is a precious 
thing. It was breathed by God at first. Christ gave his life to redeem 
it. But this is an especial one, that God hath ordained and established a 
ministry and watchmen over it. And as God hath set some watchmen 
over others, so hath he appointed every man to be a watchman to him- 
self. He hath given every man a city to watch over, that is, his own estate 
and soul. Therefore let us not depend altogether on the watching of 
others. God hath planted a conscience in every [one] of us, and useth as 
others to our good, so our own care, wisdom, and foresight, these he ele- 
vateth and sanctifieth. 

' The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they 
wounded me,' &c. 

Come we now to the carriage of these watchmen. Those that should 
have been defensive prove most offensive. 

They smote the church and wounded her many ways, though it be not 
discovered here in particular. As (1.) with their ill and scandalous life; 
and (2.) sometimes with corrupt doctrine, and otherwhiles with bitter 
words ;'and (3.) their unjust censures, as we see in the story of the church, 
especially the Romish Church. They have excommunicated churches and 
princes. But not to speak of those synagogues of Satan, come we nearer 
home and we may see amongst ourselves sometimes those that are watch- 
men, and should be for encouragement, they smite and wound the church, 
and take away her veil, 3 John 10. 

Wliat is it to take away the veil ? 

You know, in the times of the Old Testament, a veil was that which 
covered women for modesty, to shew their subjection ; and it was likewise 
an honourable ornament. ' They took away the veil,' that is, that where- 
with the church was covered. They took away that that made the church 
comely, and laid hor open, and as it were naked. 

Now both these ways the chur^Jii's veil is taken away by false and 
naughty watchmen. 

1. As the veil is a token of subjection, when by their false doctrines they 
labour to draw people f rim Christ, and their sidijection to him. 


The cliurcli is Christ's spouse. The veil was a token of subjection. 
Now they that draw the people to themselves, as in popish churches, that 
desire to sit high in the consciences of people, and so make the church un- 
dutiful, ' they take away the veil of subjection,' and so force Christ to 
punish the church, as we see in former ages. 

2. As the veil is for honour and comeliness, so ' they take away the veil' 
of the church, when they take away the credit and esteem of the church; when 
they lay open the infirmities and weaknesses of the church. This is strange 
that the watchmen should do this ; yet notwithstanding oftentimes it falls 
out so that those that by place are watchmen, are the bitterest enemies of 
the church. Who were bitterer enemies of the poor church in Christ's 
time than the scribes, pharisees, and priests ? 

And so in the time of the prophets. Who were the greatest enemies the 
church had, but false priests and prophets ? 

Quest. What is the ground of this, that those men that by their standing 
should be encouragers, are rather dampers of the church's zeal in pursuit 
of it? 

Ans. There are many grounds of it. 

Sometimes it falls out from a spirit of envy in them at the graces of God's 
people, which are wanting in themselves. They would not have others 
better than themselves. 

Sometimes from idleness, which makes them hate all such as provoke 
them to pains. They raise up the dignity of outward things too much, as 
we see in popery. They make everything to confer grace, as if they had a 
special virtue in them. But thej neglect that wherewith God hath joined 
an efficacy, his own ordinances. 

Use 1. This should teach us, to be in love with Christ's government, and to 
see the vanity of all things here below, though they be never so excellent in 
their ordinance. Such is the poison of man's heart, and the malice of 
Satan, that they turn the edge of the best things against the good of the 

What is more excellent than magistracy ? yet many times the point of 
sword is directed the wrong way. ' I have said ye are gods,' Ps. Ixxxii. 6. 
They should govern, as God himself would govern, and ask with them- 
selves, Would Godnow, if he were a watchman of the state, do thus and thus ? 
But I wish woeful experience did not witness the contrary. 

So ministers are Christ's ambassadors, 2 Cor. v. 20, and should carry them- 
selves even as Christ would do. They should strengthen the feeble knees 
and bind up the broken hearted, nor* discourage ; and not sew pillows under 
the armholes of wicked and carnal men, Ezek. xiii. 18. But, alas! we see 
the edge of the ordinance is oftentimes turned another way by the corrupt, 
proud, unbroken hearts of men and the malice of Satan. 

Use 2. Again, it should teach us not to think the worse of any for the 
disgraces of the times. The watchmen here take away the veil of the church, 
and her forwardness is disgraced by them. Take heed, therefore, we enter- 
tain not rash conceits of others upon the entertainment they find abroad 
in the world, or among those that have a standing in the church, for so we 
shall condemn Christ himself. How was he judged of the priests, scribes, 
and pharisees in his times ? And this hath been the lot of the church in 
all ages. The true members thereof were called heretics and schismatics. 
The veil was taken ofi". It is the poisonful pride of man's heart that, 
when it cannot raise itself by its own worth, it wiU endeavour to raise itself 

* Qu. 'not?'- G. 


by the ruin of others' credit through lying slanders. The devil was first a 
slanderer and liar, and then a mui'derer, John viii. 44. He cannot murder 
without he slander first. The credit of the church must first bo taken 
away, and then she is wounded. Otherwise, as it is a usual proverb. Those 
that kill a dog make the world believe that he was mad first; so they 
always first traduced the church to the world, and then persecuted her. 
Truth hath always a scratched face. Falsehood many times goes under 
better habits than its o^vn, which God sufiers, to exercise our skill and 
wisdom, that we might not depend upon the rash judgment of others, but 
might consider what grounds they have ; not what men do, or whom they 
oppose, but from what cause, whether from a spirit of envy, idleness, 
jealousy, and pride, or from good grounds. Else, if Christ himself were 
on earth again, we should condemn him, as now men do the generation 
of the just, whom they smite and wound, and take away their veil ffom 


TJie ivatclimen that xcent about the city found me, they smote me, they icounded 
me: the keepers of the tvalls took aicay my veil from me. — Cant. V. 7. 

The watchmen, those that by their place and standing should be so, they 
smote the church. As Bernard complains, almost five hundred years ago, 
* Alas, alas ! ' saith he, ' those that do seek privileges in the church are the 
first in persecuting it ; ' and as his fashion is to speak in a kind of rhe- 
toric, ' they were not pastors, but impostors.' There be two ordinances 
without which the world cannot stand. 

1. Magistracy. 

2. Ministry. 

Magistrates are nursing fathers and nursing mothers to the church. 

Ministers are watchmen by their place and standing. 

Now, for shepherds to become wolves, for watchmen to become smiters, 
what a pitiful thing is it ! But thus it is. The church hath been always 
persecuted with these men mider pretence of religion, which is the sharpest 
persecution of all in the chm-ch. It is a grievous thing to sufi'er of an 
enemy, but worse of a countryman, worse then that of a friend, and worst 
of all, of the church. Notwithstanding, by the way, we must know that 
the persecuted cause is not always the best, as Austin was forced to speak in 
his time against the Donatists (j). Sarah was a type of the true, and Hagar 
of the false, church. Now, Sarah, she corrected Hagar. Therefore, it 
follows not that the sufiering cause is alway the better. Therefore, we 
must judge of things in these kind of passages by the cause, and not by the 
outward carriage of things. 

' They took away my veil.' 

Quest. What shall we do in such cases, if ive suffer any indiynity, if the 
veil he taken off'? That is, if our shame, iufii-mities, and weaknesses be laid 
open by false imputations. 

Ans. In this case it is the ' innocency of the dove ' that is to be laboured 
for, and withal the wisdom of the sei-pent, Mat. x. 16. If innocency will 
not serve, labour for wisdom, as indeed it will not alone. The wicked 
wrould then labour for subtilty to disgrace righteous persons. 


Obj. But what if that will not serve neither ? Christ was wisdom itself, 
yet he suffered most. 

Ans. When innocency and wisdom will not do it (because we must be 
conformable to our head), then we must labour for patience, knowing that 
one hair of our heads shall not fall to the ground without the providence of 
the Almighty. 

Commend om- ease, as Christ did, by faith and prayer to God that judgeth. 

* I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you see my beloved, that 
you tell him that I am sick of love,' &c. 

Here the church, after her ill usage of the watchmen, is forced to the 
society of other Christians not so well acquainted with Christ as herself. 
' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved,' &c., 
' tell him,' &c. Wliat shall they tell him? 

' Tell him I am sick of love.' 

The church is restless in her desire and pursuit after Christ till she find 
him. No opposition, you see, can take off her endeavour. 

1. Christ seems to leave her inwardly. 

2. Then she goeth to the watchmen. They * smite and wound ' her. 

3. Then she hath recourse to the daughters of Jerusalem for help. 
Generally, before we come to the particulars, from the connection we may 

observe this, 

That love is afire Idndled from heaven. 

Nothing in the world will quench this grace. Cant. viii. 7. 8 ; no oppo- 
sition ; nay, opposition rather whets and kindles endeavour. 

The church was nothing discouraged by the ill usage of the watchmen, 
onlj^ she complains; she is not insensible. A Christian may without sin 
be sensible of indignities ; only it must be the ' mom-ning of doves,' Isa. 
xxxviii. 14, and not the roaring of bears. It must not be murmuring and 
impatiency, but a humble complaining to God that he may take our case to 
heart, as the church doth here. But as sensible as she was, she was not a 
whit discouraged, but seeks after Christ still in other means. If she find 
him not in one, she will try in another. We see here the nature of love. 
If it be in any measure perfect, it casteth out all fear of discouragements. 

And, indeed, it is the nature of true grace to grow up with difficulties. As 
the ark rose higher with the waters, so likewise the soul grows higher and 
higher, it mounts up as discouragements and oppositions grow. Nay, the 
soul takes vigour and strength from discouragements, as the wind increaseth 
the flame. So the gi'ace of God, the more the winds and waves of afiliction 
oppose it, With so much the more violence it breaks through all opposi- 
tions, until it attain the desired hope. 

To apply it : those therefore that are soon discouraged, that pull in their 
horns presently, it is a sign they are very cold, and have but little grace. 
For where there is any strength of holy affection, they will not be dis- 
couraged, nor their zeal be quenched and damped. Therefore they subordinate 
religion to their own ends, as your temporary believers. "VMiere is any love 
to Christ, the love of Christ is of a violent nature. It sways in the heart, 
as the apostle speaks, ' The love of Christ constraineth us,' 2 Cor. v. 14. 

If we find this unconquerable resolution in ourselves, notwithstanding all 
discouragements to go on in a good cause, let us acknowledge that fire to be 
from heaven ; let ub not lose such an argument of the state of grace, as 
suffering of afflictions with joy. The more we suffer, the more we should 
rejoice, if the cause be good, as the apostles rejoiced ' that they were ac- 
counted worthy to suffer any thing,' Acts v. 41. 

Cant. V. 7.] ' i charge you, o daughtees.' 123 

' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that 
ye tell him I am sick of love.' 

She goes to the ' daughters of Jerusalem' for help. Whence we may learn, 

That, if we find not comfort in one means, we must have recourse to another. 

If we find not Christ present in one, seek him in another ; and perhaps 
we shall find him where we least thought of him. Sometimes there is more 
comfort in the society of poor Christians, than of the watchmen themselves. 

' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,' &c. 

Where we have, 1. A charge given. ' I charge,' &c. 

2. The parties charged, ' the daughters of Jerusalem.' 

3. The particular thing they are charged with, that is, if they find Chi-ist, 
' to teU him she is sick of love.' 

The parties charged, are ' the daughters of Jerusalem,' the daughters of 
the chm'ch, which is called Jerusalem, from some resemblances between 
Jerusalem and the church. Some few shall be touched, to give light to the 

1. Jerusalem was a city compact in itself, as the Psalmist saith, Ps. 
cxxii. 3, so is the chm'ch, the body of Christ. 

2. Jerusalem was chosen from all places of the world, to be the seat of 
God ; so the church is the seat of Christ. He dwells there in the hearts of 
his childi'en. 

3. It is said of Jerasalem, they went up to Jenisalem, and dov,-n to 
Egypt, and other places : so the church is from above. Gal. iv. 26. ' The 
way of wisdom is on high,' Prov. xv. 24. Religion is upward. Grace, 
gloiy, and comfort come from above ; and di-aw our minds up to have our 
conversation and our desires above. 

4. Jerusalem was^./ the joy of the whole earth ;' so the church of God, 
what were the world without it, but a company of incarnate devils ? 

5. In Jerusalem, records were kept of the names of all the citizens 
there ; so all the ti-ue citizens of the church, their names are written in the 
book of life in heaven, Heb. xii. 23. 

The daughters of Jerusalem therefore are the true members of the church 
that are both bred and fed in the church, 1 Peter i. 20 ; 1 Peter ii. 2. Let 
us take a trial of om'selves, whether we be daughters of Jerusalem or no. 
That we may make this trial of oui-selves. 

1. If ice find freedom in our conscience from terrors and fears. If we find 
spiritual liberty and fr-eedom to serve God, it is a sign that we are daughters 
of Jerusalem, because Jerusalem was free, Gal. iv. 26. 

2. Or if we mind thinrjs above, and things of the church. If we take to 
heart the cause of the truth, it is a sign we are true ' daughters of Jerusa- 
lem.' We know what the Psalmist saith, ' Let my right hand forget her 
cunning if I forget thee, Jerusalem, if I do not prefer Jerusalem before 
my chief joy,' Ps. cxxxviii. 5, 6. If the cause of the church go to our 
hearts ; if we can joy in the church's joy, and mourn in the church's abase- 
ment and suffering, it is a sign we are true daughters of Jerusalem, and 
lively* members of the body of Christ. Otherwise, when we hear that the 
chm-ch goes down, and that the adverse part prevails, and we joy, it is a 
sign we are daughters of Babylon and not of Jerusalem. 

Therefore let us ask our affections what we are, as Austin writes excel- 
lently in his book I)e Civitate Dei. * Ask thy heart of what city thou art.' 

But what saith the church to the daughters of Jerusalem ? In the first 
place, ' I charge you.' 

* That is, ' li\ing.' — G. 


It is a kind of admiration supplied thus : ' I charge you, as you love me 
your sister, as you love Christ, as you tender my case that am thus used, 
as you will make it good that you are daughters of Jerusalem and not of 
Babylon, ' tell my beloved, that I am sick of love.' It is a strong charge, 
a defective speech, which yields us this observation. 

That true affections are serious in the things of God and of religion. 

She lays a weight upon them, ' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem.' 
True impressions have stong expressions. Therefore are we cold in matters 
of religion in our discourses ; it is because we want these inward impres- 
sions. The church here was full, she could not contain herself, in re- 
gard of the largeness of her affections. ' I charge you, daughters of 
Jerusalem,' &c. 

We may find the truth of grace in the heart, by the discoveries and ex- 
pressions in the conversation in general. 

' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that ye 
tell him I am sick of love.' 

The church here speaks to others meaner than herself. She would have 
the church tell Christ, by prayer, the surest intelligencer, how she was used, 
how she languished, and was sick for him, and cannot be without him. 

Quest. Why did not the church tell Christ herself ? 

Ans. So she did as well as she could, but she desired the help of the 
church this way also. Sometimes it is so with the children of God that they 
cannot pray so well as they should, and as they would do ; because the 
waters of the soul are so troubled, that they can do nothing but utter groans 
and sighs, especially in a state of desertion, as Hezekiah could but chatter, 
Isa. xxxviii. 14 ; and Moses could not utter a word at the Red Sea, though he 
did strive in his spirit, Ex. xiv. 15. In such cases they must be beholden to 
the help of others. 

Sometimes a man is in body sick, as James saith, ' If any man be sick, 
let him send for the elders, and let them pray,' James v. 14. There may 
be such distemper of body and soul, that we are unfit to lay open our estate 
to our own content. It is oft so with the best of God's children ; not that 
God doth not respect those broken sighs and desires, but they give not con- 
tent to the soul. The poor palsy man in the gospel, not able to go him- 
self, was carried on the shoulders of others, and let through the house to 
Christ, Mark ii. 2, 3. Ofttimes we may be in such a palsy estate, that we 
cannot bring ourselves to Christ, but we must be content to be borne to him 
by others. 

' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, that ye tell my beloved I am 
sick of love.' 

Whence the point that I desire you would observe is. 

That at such times as ive find not our spirits enlarged from any cause out- 
ward and inurird, to comfort and joy, then is a time to desire the i^rayers and 
help of others. 

It is good to have a stock going everywhere ; and those thrive the best 
that have most pra3'ers made for them ; have a stock going in every coun- 
try. This is the happiness of the saints. To enforce this instruction, to 
desire the prayers of others, we must discover, that there is a wondrous 
force in the prayers of Christians one for another. It is more than a com- 
pliment. Would it were so ! 

The great apostle Paul, see how he desires the Romans, that they would 
strive and contend with God after a holy violence, by their joint prayers 
for him, Rom. xv. 30; so he desires the Thessalonians that they would 

Cant. V. 7.] ' i am sick of love.' 125 

pray for him, * that he might be delivered from unreasonable men, ' 
2 Thes. iii. 2. It is usual with him to say, ' Pray, pray,' and for us too ; 
for such are gracious in the court of heaven. Despise none in this case. 
A true, downright, experienced Christian's prayers are of much esteem 
with God. Our blessed Saviour himself, when he was to go into the gar- 
den, though his poor disciples were sleepy, and very untoward, yet he 
would have their society and prayers. Mat. xx^^. 38 (/c). 

' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that 
ye tell him I am sick of love.' 

To speak a little of the matter of the charge, ' I am sick of love.' I love 
him, because I have found former comfort, strength, and sweetness from 
him, that I cannot be without him. To bo love-sick, then, in the presence 
of the church, is to have strong affections to Christ ; from which comes 
wondrous disquietuess of spirit in his absence. Here is somewhat good, 
and somewhat ill. This is first her vii'tue, that she did fervently love. This 
was her infirmity, that she was so much distempered with her present 
want. These two breed this sickness of love. Whence we observe. 

Where the thing loved is not jnrsent, ansicerahle to the desires of the soid 
that loves, there follows disquiet and distemper of affections. That is here 
termined* sickness of love. 

The reason hereof is, natural contentment is in union ivith the thing loved. 
The more excellent the thing is that is loved, the more contentment there 
is in communion with it ; and where it is in any degi'ee or measure hin- 
dered, there is disquiet. Answerable to the contentment in enjoying, is the 
grief, sorrow, and sickness in parting. The happiness of the chm-ch con- 
sisting in society with Christ, therefore it is her misery and sickness to be 
deprived of him, not to enjoy him whom her soul so dearly loveth. There 
are few in the world sick of this disease. I would there were more sick of 
the love of Christ. There are many that surfeit rather of fulness, who 
think we have too much of this manna, of this preaching, of this gospel. 
There is too much of this knowledge of the ordinances. These are not 
sick of love. 

Use. Make a use, therefore, of trial, whether we be in the state of the 
church or no, by valuing and prizing thejn-esence of Christ in his ordinances, 
the word and sacraments. 

There are many fondf sicknesses in the world. There is Amnon's 
sickness, that was sick of love for his sister Tamar, 2 Sam. xiii. 2 ; his 
countenance discovered it. And Ahab, he is sick in desiring his neigh- 
bour's vine3'ard, 1 Kings xxi. 1, seq. You have many strange sicknesses. 
Many sick with fires kindled from the flesh, fi.-om hell, but few sick of this 
sickness here spoken of. 

1. If we find ourselves carried to Christ, to ran in that stream as strong 
as the affections of those that are distempered with sickness of the love 
of other things, it ivill discover to us whether we be truly love-sick or not. 

2. Take a man that is sick for any earthly thing, whether of Ahab's or 
Amnon's sickness, or of anything, take it as you will, that which the soul 
is sick of in love, it thinks of daily. It dreams of it in the night. What do 
our souls therefore think of ? What do our meditations run after ? ^\Tien 
we are in our advised and best thoiights, what do we most think of? If 
of Christ, of the state of the church here, of grace and glory, all is well. 
What makes us, in the midst of all worldly discontentments, to think all 
dung and dross in comparison of Chiist, but this sickness of love to Christ. 

* That is, ' termed.'— G. t That is, ' foolish.'— G. 


If our love be in such a degree as it makes us sick of it, it makes us not to 
hear what we hear, not to see v/hat we see, not to regard what is present. 
The soul is in a kind of ecstasy ; it is carried so strongly, and taken up 
with things of heaven. It is deaded to other things, when our eyes are 
no more led v/ith vanity than if we had none, and the flesh is so mortified 
as if we were dead men, by reason of the strength of our afl'ections that run 
another way, to better things which are above. 

3. Thus we see it is in love. Talk with a man that is in any heat of 
affections, you talk with one that is not at home, you talk with one absent. 
The soul is more where it loves than where it dwells. Surely where love 
is in any strength it di'aws up the soul, so that a man ofttimes, in his call- 
ing and ordinary employments, doth not heed them, but passeth through 
the world as a man at random. He regards not the things of the world ; 
for Christ is gotten into his heart, and draws all the affections to himself. 
Where the affection of love is strong, it cares not what it suffers for the 
party loved, nay, it glories in it. As it is said of the disciples, when they 
were whipped and scourged for preaching the gospel, it was a matter of 
glory to them, Acts v. 41. It is not labour, but favour. It is not labour 
and vexation, but favom* that is taken, where love is to the party loved. 
Where the love of Christ is, which was here in the chm'ch, labour is no 
labour, suffering is no suffering, trouble is no trouble. 

4. Again, it is the property of the j^di'ty that is sick of this disease, to take 
little contentment in other things. Tell a covetous worldling that is in love 
with the world a discourse of learning, what cares he for learning ? Tell him 
of a good bargain, of a matter of gain, and he will hearken to that. So it 
is with the soul that hath felt the love of Christ shed abroad in his heart. 
Tell him of the world, especially if he want* that which he desires, the 
peace and strength that he found from Christ in former times, he relisheth 
not your discourse. 

Labour we, therefore, everyday more and more to have larger and larger 
affections to Cln-ist. The soul that loves Christ, the nearer to Christ the 
more joyful it is ; when he thinks of those mutual embracings, when 
Christ and his soul shall meet together there. This happiness is there, 
where the soul enjoys the thing loved ; but that is not here, but in heaven. 
Therefore, in the mean time, with joy he thankfully frequents the places 
where Christ is present in the word and sacrament. And, that we may 
come to have this affection, let us see what our souls are without him ; 
mere dungeons of darkness and confusion, nothing coming from us that is 
good. This will breed love to the ordinances ; and then we shall relish 
Christ both in the word and sacrament. For he is food for the hungry 
soul, and requires nothing of us but good appetites ; and this will make us 
desire his love and presence. 


I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find viy beloved, that ye tell him 
I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, thou 
fairest among icomen ? <£c. — Cant. V. 8, 9. 

The soul, as it is of an immortal substance, so in the right and true temper 
thereof, [itj aspheth towards immortality, unless when it is clouded and 

Cant. V. 8, 9.] ' if you find my beloved.* 127 

overprcssed with that ' which presseth downwards, and the sin which hangoth 
so fast on,' as the apostle speaks, Heb. xii. 1,-= which is the reason of 
those many and diverse tossings and tunuoilings of the enhghtened soul, now 
up, now down, now running amain homewards, and now again sluggish, 
idle, and lazy ; until roused irp by extraordinary means, it puts on again. 
As the fire mounteth upwards unto its proper place, and as the needle still 
trembleth till it stand at the north ; so the soul, once inflamed with an 
heavenly fire, and acquainted with her first original, cannot be at rest until 
it fiiid itself in that comfortable way which certainly leads homewards. An 
instance whereof we have in the church here, who, having lost her sweet 
communion with Christ, and so paid dearly for her former neglect and 
slighting his kind invitations, as being troubled, restless in mind, ' beaten 
and wounded by the watchmen,' bereft of her veil, &c. Yet this heavenly 
fire of the blessed Spirit, this ' water of life,' John iv. 10, so restlessly 
springing in her, makes her sickness of love and ardent desire after Christ 
to be such, that she cannot contain herself, but breaks forth in this passion- 
ate charge and request — 

' I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye 
tell him I am sick of love.' 

Thus we may see that the way to heaven is full of changes. The 
strength of corruption overclouds many times, and damps our joys. How 
many several tempers hath the charch been in ! Sometimes she is aU 
compounded of ]oj, vehemently desiring kisses of her best beloved. She 
holds her beloved fast, and will not let him go ; and sometimes, again, she 
is gone, hath lost her beloved, is in a sea of ti'oubles, seeks and cannot find 
him, becomes sluggish, ^negligent, overtaken with self-love, after which 
when she hath smarted for her omissions, as here again, she is all a-fire 
after Christ, as w^e say, no ground will hold her, away she flies after him, 
and is restless until she find him. Where by the way we see, that ^;enna- 
itency and stahiUtij is for the life to come ; here our j'iortion is to expect changes, 
storms, and tempests. Therefore they must not be strange to particular 
persons, since it is the portion of the whole church, which thus by sufiier- 
ings and conformity to the head, 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18, must enter into glory, 
while God makes his power perfect in our weakness, 2 Cor. xii. 9, over- 
comes Satan by unlikely means, and so gets himself the glory, even out of 
our gi'eatest infirmities, temptations, and abasements. 

But God, though he make all things work for good unto his children, 
Rom. \'iii. 28, even the devil, sin, and death, desertions, afilictions and aU; 
yet we must be warned hereby not to tempt God, by neglecting the means 
appointed for our comfortable passage, but open to Christ when he knocks, 
embrace him joyfully in his ordinances, and let our hearts fly open unto 
him. For though, through his mercy, om- wounds be cured, yet who 
would be wounded to try such dangerous experiments, as here befell 
the church in her desertions, for her sluggish negligence, deadness, and 
self-love ? 

So that we see there is nothing gotten by favouring ourselves in carnal 
liberty, security, or by yielding to the flesh. The church stood upon terms 
with Christ when he would have come in to her ; but what ensued here- 
upon ? She fell into a grievous desertion, and not only so, but finds very 
hard usage abroad, all which she might have prevented by watchfulness, 
carefulness, and opening to Christ knocking. It is a spiritual error, to 
which we are all prone, to think that much is gained by favoiuring ourselves, 

« See Note e— G. 


but we shall find it otherwise. See here, again, that God will bear with 
nothing, though in his own, but he will sharply punish them even for 
omissions, and that not only with desertion, but sometimes they shall meet 
with oppositions in the world. 

David cannot scape with a proud thought in numbering of the people, 
but he must smart for it, and his people also, 2 Sam. xxiv. 1. God is 
wondrous careful of his children to correct them, when he lets strangers 
alone, Amos iii. 2. It is a sign of love, when he is at this cost with us. 
And it should tie us to be careful of our behaviour, not to presume upon 
God's indulgence ; for the nearer we are to him, the more careful he is over 
us : ' He will be sanctified in all that come near him,' Lev. x. 3. We see 
the Corinthians, because they come unreverently to the Lord's table, though 
otherwise they were holy men, ' some of them are sick, some weak, others 
sleep, that they might not be condemned with the world,' 1 Cor. xi. 30. 

Let none, therefore, think the profession of religion to imply an im- 
munity, but rather a straighter* bond ; for ' judgment begins at the house 
of God,' 1 Pet. iv. 17. Whatsoever he suffers abroad, he will not sufier 
disorders in his own house, as the prophet says, ' You only have I known 
of all the families of the earth, therefore you shall not go unpunished,' 
Amos iii. 2. The church is near him, his spouse whom he loveth, and 
therefore he will correct her, not endming any abatement, or decay of the 
fii-st love in her. And for this very cause he threateneth the church of 
Ei^hesus, * to remove her candlestick,' Rev. ii. 5. 

To proceed. The poor ehm-ch here is not discouraged, but discovers 
and empties herself to the daughters of Jerusalem. As it is the nature of 
culinary fire, not only to mount upwards, but also to bewray itself by light 
and heat, so of this heavenly fire, when it is once kindled from above, not 
only to aspire in its motion, but to discover itself, in aflecting others with 
its qualities. It could not contain itself here in the church, but that she 
must go to the daughters of Jerusalem. ' I charge you, daughters of 
Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him that I am sick of love,' 
Therefore they may doubt that they have not this heavenly fii-e kindled in. 
them, that express it not seriously ; for of all afiections, it will not be con- 
cealed, David wonders at his own love : ' Oh, how I love thy law ! Oh, 
how amiable are thy tabernacles ! ' Ps. cxix. 97. 

Again, we see here, that tvhere the soul is sick of love, it stands not upon 
any terms, hut it humbleth and ahaseth itself. We say that afiection stands 
not with majesty. Therefore Christ's love to us moved him to abase him- 
self in taking our nature, that he might be one with us. Love stood not 
upon terms of greatness. We see the church goes to those that were 
meaner proficients in religion than herself, to pour out her spirit to them, 
* to the daughters of Jerusalem.' She abaseth herself to any service, 1 
Thess. ii. 3. Love endureth all things, 1 Cor. xiii. 7, anything to attain 
to the thing loved ; as we see Hamorthe son of Shechem,t he would endure 
painful circumcision for the love he bore to Dinah, Gen. xxxiv. 24. So, 
Acts V. 41, it is said they went away rejoicing, after they were whipped, 
because they loved Christ. The spirit of love made them rejoice, when 
they were most disgracefully used. 

Sometimes where this affection of heavenly love is prevalent, so that a 

man is sick of it, the distempers thereof redounds to the body, and reflects 

upon that, as we see in David : ' That his moisture became as the drought 

of summer,' Ps. xxxii. 4 ; because there is a marriage and a sj'mpathy 

.*■ Qu. ' straiter ?" — Ed. f ' Shechem the son of Hamor.' — Ed. 

Cant. V. 8, 9.] * o thou fairest among women.' 129 

between the soi;l and the body, wherein the excessive affections of the ono 
redoitnd and reflect upon the other. 

' Tell him that I am sick of love.' Here is a sickness, but not unto death, 
but unto life ; a sickness that never ends but in comfort and satisfaction. 
Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after Christ, they shall be satis- 
fied, Mat. V. 6, as we shall see afterwards more at large. 

Knowledge gives not the denomination, for we may know ill and he goodf 
and ice may know good and he evil; but it is the affection of the soul which 
cleaves to the things known. The truth of our love is that gives the deno- 
mination of a state to be good or ill. Love is the weight and wing of tho 
soul, which carries it where it goes ; which, if it carry us to earth, we aro 
base and earthly ; if to heaven, heavenly. We should have especial care 
how we fix this affection ; for thereafter as it is, even so is our condition. 
' Ask thy love of what city thou art, whether of Jerusalem or Babylon,' 
as Austin saith. Now the daughters of Jerusalem reply unto the church,, 
wondering at her earnestness, 

' What is thy beloved more than another beloved, thou fairest among 
women ? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so 
charge us ?' 

Instead of giving satisfaction to her, they reply with asking new questions, 
' What is thy beloved more than another beloved, thou fairest among 
women ? what is thy beloved,' &c. Wherein ye have a doubling of the 
question, to shew the seriousness of it. Of this their answer there are two parts. 

1. A loving and sweet compellation, ' thou fairest among women.' 

2. The question doubled, ' What is thy beloved more than another 
beloved?' And again, 'What is thy beloved,' &c., 'that thou dost so 
charge us ? ' As if they should say, ' Thou layest a serious charge upon 
us ; therefore there is some great matter surely in thy beloved that thou 
makest such inquiiy after him.' Thus the weaker Christians being stin'ed 
up by the example of the stronger, they make this question, and aro thus 
inquisitive. But to speak of them in their order. 

' thou faii'est among women.' Here is the compellation. The church 
is the fairest among women in the judgment of Christ. So he calls her, 
* thou fairest among women,' Cant. i. 8 ; and here the fellow- members 
of the chm-ch term her so too ; fair, and the fairest, incomparably fair. 

Quest. But how cometh she to be thus fair ? 

Ans. 1. It is in regard that she is clothed with Christ's rohes. There is a 
woman mentioned clothed with the sun. Rev. xii. 1. We were all ennobled 
with the image of God at the fii-st, but after we had sinned we were bereft 
of that image. Therefore now all our beauty must be clothing, which is 
not natural to man, but artificial ; fetched from other things. Our beauty 
now is borrowed. It is not connatiu'al with us. The beauty of the church 
now comes from the Head of the church, Ckrist. She shines in the beams 
of her husband, not only in justification, but in sanctification also. 

2. The chm-ch is lovely and fau' again, as from Christ's imputative right- 
eousness, so from his righteousness inherent in her, the graces she hathjrom 
him. For of him we receive grace for grace. There is never a gi'ace bui 
it is beautiful and fiiir ; for what is grace but the beams of Christ, the Sun 
of righteousness ? So that all must be fiiii- that comes from the first fair, 
all beautiful that comes from the first beauty. 

This beauty of grace, whereby it makes the church so fair, springs from 
these grounds. 

First. In that it is from a divine •principle and original. It is not basely hred, 


130 60WEX.S OPENED. [Sermon XIII. 

hut from heaven. And therefore it raiseth the soul above nature, and makes 
the subjects -wherein it is as far surpass all other men, as men do beasts. 

Secondly. In regard of the continuance, it is everlasting, and makes its 
continue for ever. 'All flesh is grass, and as the flower of grass,' saith the 
prophet, Isa. xl. 6 ; and it is repeated in the New Testament in divers 
places. All worldly excellency is as the flower of grass. ' The grass 
withereth and the flower fadeth, but the word of the Lord (that is, the 
grace that is imprinted in the soul by the Spirit with the word), that 
abideth for ever,' 1 Pet. i. 24, and makes us abide likewise. 

Use 1. From this fairness of the church, let us take occasion to contem- 
plate of the excellency of Christ that puts this lustre of beauty upon the 
church. Moses married a woman that was not beautiful, but could not 
alter the complexion and condition of his spouse. But Christ doth. He 
takes us wallowing in our blood, deformed and defiled. He is such a hus- 
band as can put into his church his own disposition, and transform her 
into his own proportion. He is such a head as can quicken his members ; 
such a root as instils life into all his branches ; such a foundation as makes 
us living stones. There is a virtue and power in this husband above all. 

Obj. But she is black. 

Ans. She is so, indeed, and she confesseth herself to be so. ' I am 
black, but comely,' Cant. i. 5. (1.) Black in regard of the afflictions and 
persecutions of others she meets with in this world. 

(2.) Black, again, in regard of scandals ; for the devil hates the church 
more than all societies in the world. Therefore, in the society of the 
church there are often more scandals than in other people ; as the apostle 
tells the Corinthians there was incest amongst them, the like was not 
among the heathen, 1 Cor. v. 1. 

(3.) She is black through the envy of the world, that looks more at the 
church's faults than virtues. 

(4.) The church is black and unlovely, nothing difiering from others, in 
regard of God's outward dealing. 'All falls alike to all,' Eccles. ix. 2. 
They are sick and deformed. They have all things outwardly whatsoever 
in common with others. 

(5.) Lastly and principally, she is black, in respect of her infirmities and 
weaknesses ; subject to weakness and passions, as other men. The beauty 
of the church is inward, and undiscerned to the carnal eye altogether. The 
Scribes and Pharisees see no virtue in Christ himself. It is said, ' that he 
came among his own, and his own could not discern of him : the darkness 
could not comprehend that light,' John i. 5, 11. Now, as it was with 
Christ, so it is much more with the church. Let this, then, be the use of it. 

Use 2. Ojypose this state of the church to the false judgment of the icorld. 
They see all black, and nothing else that is good. Christ sees that which 
is black, too ; but then his Spirit in them (together with the sight of their 
blackness) seeth their beauty, too. ' I am black, but comely,' &c. Be not 
discouraged, therefore, at the censure of the world. BHnd men cannot 
judge of colours. It is said of Christ, ' he had no form or beauty in him, 
when we shall see him,' Isa. liii. 2. (1.) Not in outward glory, nor (2.) in 
the view of the world. If we be, therefore, thought to be black, we are no 
otherwise thought of than the church and Christ hath been before us. 

Use 3. Again, let us make this use of it against Satan in the time of 
temptation. Doth Christ think us fair for the good we have ? Doth he 
not altogether value us by our ill ? and shall we believe Satan, who joins 
with the distempers of melancholy or weakness we are in (which he useth 

Cant. V. 8, 9.] ' o thou fairest among women,' 131 

as a weapon against the soul), to make us think otherwise ? ' Satan is not 
only a murderer, but a liar from the beginning,' John viii. 44. We must 
uot believe an enemy and a liar withal. But consider how Christ and the 
chm'ch judgeth, that have better discerning. And let us beware we be 
not Satans* to ourselves; for if there were no devil, yet in the time of 
temptation and desertion we are subject to discouragement, to give false 
witness against ourselves. "We are apt to look on the dark side of the 
cloud. The cloud that went before the Israelites had a double aspect, one 
dark, the other light, Exod. xiv. 20. In temptation we look on the dark 
side of the soul, and are witty in pleading against ourselves. Oh, but 
consider what Christ judgeth of us, ' ! thou fairest among women ;' and 
what those about us that are learned, who can read our evidences better 
than we ourselves, do judge of us. Let us trust the judgment of others in 
time of temptation more than our own. 

Use 4. Learn again here, tchat to judge of the sjnrits of such kind of men as 
are all in disgracincj and defacing the j)oor church. Their table talk is of the 
infirmities of Christians. They light upon them as flies do upon sore 
places, and will see nothing that is good in them. Oh ! where is the Spirit 
of Christ, or of the church of Christ, in them that thus bescratch the face 
of the church ? when yet ofttimes their hearts tell them these poor despised 
ones will be better than themselves one day, for grace shall have the upper 
hand of all excellences. 

The chui-ch is fair and fairest. Grace is a transcendent good. All the 
excellency of civility and morality is nothing to this. This denominates 
the chm'ch the fairest. She is not gilt, but pure gold ; not painted, but 
hath a true natural complexion. All other excellencies are but gilt, painted 
excellencies. ' The whore of Babylon,' she is wondrous fair ! But wherein 
doth her beauty consist ? In ornaments and ceremonies to abuse silly 
people that go no further than fancy. It is an excellency that comes not 
to the judgment, but the excellency of the church is otherwise. She is 
* the fairest among women.' She hath a natural fixirness. As gold is pure 
gold, so the church is of a pure composition, glorious within. It is for^the 
false, whorish chui'ch to be glorious without only, but the true churclias 
glorious within. But that which we should especially observe is, that ice 
should labour to answer this commendation ; not only to be fair, but the fairest; 
to be transcendenthj , singularly good ; to do somewhat more than others can; to 
have somewhat more in us than others have. 

For it is answerable to the state of a Christian. Is a Christian in an 
excellent rank above other men ? Let him shew it by a carriage more gra- 
cious, more fruitful and plentiful in good works. There is a kind of excel- 
lency affected in other things, much more should we desire to be excellent 
in that that is good, that we may not be fair only, but the fairest. This the 
apostle St Paul excellently presseth to Titus, his scholar, Tit. ii. 14,f and 
to all of us in other places, that we should be ' a pecuhar people, zealous 
of good works,' not only to do them, but to be zealous of them, and to go 
before others in them, standing as standard-bearers. Therefore those 
that think they may go too far in rehgion, that they may be too fruitful, 
are not worthy the name of the spouse of Christ ; for she is fair, yea, the 
fairest among women, ' The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour,' 
Prov. xii. 26. Therefore we should excel in good works, as the apostle 

* That is, ' accusers' or ' adversaries.'— G. 

t ' Jesus Christ, who Rave himself for us that he might redeem us from all ini- 
quity, aud purify unto himself a peculiar people.' 


exhorts us, * to labour after things that are excellent/ 1 Cor. xii. 31 ; 2 Pet. 
i. 8, as if he should say, Is there anything better than other, labour for 
that. You have some so far from this disposition that they cry down the 
excellencies of others, lest the fairness of ott^ers might discover their black- 
ness. Thus we leave the compellation, and come to the question. 

Quest. ' What is thy beloved more than another beloved ?' And they 
double it, ' What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou so 
chargest us ?' 

Questions are of divers natures. We shall not stand upon them. This 
is not a question merely of ignorance, for they had some knowledge of 
Christ, though weak. Nor was it a curious nor a catching question, like 
those of the scribes and pharisees unto Christ, to instance in that of Pilate, 

* What is truth ?' John xviii. 38, when Christ had told him the truth. ' What 
is truth?' saith he, in a scornful, profane manner (l), as indeed profane 
spirits cannot hear savouiy words, but they turn them oil' v/ith scorn, 

* What is truth ? ' This here in the text is not such, but a question tend- 
ing to further resolution and satisfaction, ' What is thy beloved more than 
another beloved ? ' 

First of all, observe that these of the church here were stirred up by the 
examples of other members of the church to be inquisitive after Christ, so 
to be satisfied. Hence obsei've that there is a wondrous force in the examples 
of Christians to stir up one another. We see here, when the church was 
sick of love, the other part of the members began to think, what is the 
reason the church is so earnest to seek after Christ ? There is some ex- 
cellency sure in him. For wise men do not use great motions in little mat- 
ters. Great things are carried with great movings. We use not to stir 
up tragedies for trifles, to make mountains of mole-hills. The endeavours 
and carriages of great persons that be wise, judicious, and holy are answer- 
able to the nature of things. And indeed the chui'ch judgeth aright in 
this. Then see the force of good example. Any man that hath his wits 
about him, when he sees others serious, earnest, and careful about a thing, 
whereof for the present he can see no reason, especially if they have parts 
equal or superior to himself, will reason thus presently : — 

What is the matter that such a one is so earnest, so careful, watchful, 
laborious, inquisitive ? It is not for want of wit ; surely he hath parts 
enough, he understands himself well. And then he begins to think, sure 
I am too cold. Hereupon come competition and co-rivahty,* surely I will 
be as good as he. 

Use. Let us labour, therefore, to be exemplary to others, and to express 
the graces of God ; for thus we shall do more than we are aware. There 
is a secret influence in good example. Though a man say nothing, saith 
one, there is a way to profit from a good man though he hold his peace. 
His course of hfe speaks loud enough. We owe this to all, even to them 
that are without, to do them so much good as to give them a good example, 
and we wi'ong them when we do not, and hinder then* coming on by an 
evil or a dead example. 

Let this be one motive to stir us up to it, that answerable to the good we 
shall do in this kind shall he our comfort in life and death, and our reward 
after death. For the more spreading our good is either in word, life, or 
conversation, the more our consciences shall be settled in the consideration 
of a good life well spent, our reward shall be answerable to our communi- 
cation and diffusion of good ; and whereas othenvise it will lie heavy on the 
* That is, ' mutual emulation.' — G. 

Cant. V. 8, 9.J * o thou fairest among women.' 133 

conscience, not only in this life, but at the day of judgment and after ; 
when we shall think not only of the personal ill that we stand guilty of, 
but exemplary ill also. 

It should move those therefore of inferior sort to look to all good examples, 
as the church here to the love of the other part of the church. Wherefore 
are examples among us but that we should follow them ? We shall not 
only be answerable for abuse of knowledge, but also of good examples wo 
have had and neglected. Doth God kindle lights for us, and shall not we 
walk by their light ? It is a sin not to consider the sun, the moon, the 
stars, the heavens, and works of nature and providence, much more not to 
consider the works of grace. But one place of Scripture shall close up all, 
which is, Rom. xi. 11, that the example of us Gentiles at length shall stu' 
up and provoke the Jews to believe. To those stili-necked Jews example 
shall be so forcible that it shall prevail with them to believe and to be con- 
verted. K example be of such force as to convert the Jews that are so far 
off, how much more is it or should it be to convert Christians ! Wondrous 
is the force of good example ! So we come to the question itself, 

' What is thy beloved more than another beloved ? ' &c. 

We see there is excellent use of holy conference. The church coming to 
the daughters of Jerusalem, speaking of Christ her beloved, that she is 
' sick of love,' &c., the daughters of Jerusalem are inquisitive to know 
Christ more and more. Here is the benefit of holy conference and good 
speeches. One thing draws on another, and that draws on another, till at 
length the soul be warmed and kindled with the consideration and medita- 
tion of heavenly things. That that is httle in the beginning may bring 
forth great matters. This question to the chui'ch and talking with her, ' I 
charge you, if you find my beloved, to tell him that I am sick of love,' 
breeds questions in others, 'What is thy beloved?' &c. Wlience, upon the 
description of her beloved, her heart is kindled, she findeth her beloved; so 
that talking of holy and heavenly things is good for others and ourselves also. 

It is good for others, as it was good for the daughters of Jerusalem here ; 
for thereupon they are stii'red up to be inquisitive after Christ. And it was 
good for the church herself, for hereupon she took occasion to make a large 
commendation of Christ, wherein she found much comfort. 

2. Good conference, then, is good for ourselves ; for we see a little seed 
brings forth at length a great tree, a little fire kindleth much fuel, and great 
things many times rise out of small beginnings. It was a little occasion 
which Naaman the Assyrian* had to effect his conversion, 2 Kings v. 2. 
There was a poor banished woman, a stranger, who was a Jewish maid- 
servant. She told her lord's servants that there was a prophet in Jewry that 
could heal him, whereupon he came thither, and was converted and healed. 
And Paul sheweth that the very report of his bonds did a gi-eat deal of good 
in Cesar's house, Philip, i. 13. Report and fame is a little matter, but 
little matters make way for the greater. 

This may put us in mind to spend our time fruitfully in good conference, 
when in discretion it is seasonable. We know not, when we begin, where we 
may make an end. Our souls may be carried up to heaven before we are 
aware, for the Spirit will enlarge itself from one thing to another. ' To 
bun that hath shall be given more and more still,' Mat. xiii. 12. God 
graciously seconds good beginnings. We see the poor disciples, when they 
were in a damp for the loss of Christ, after he comes, meets them, and talks 
of holy things. In that very conference their hearts were warmed and 

* ' Syrian.'— Ed. 


kindled, Luke xxiv. 32. For, next to heaven itself, our meeting together 
here, it is a kind of paradise. The greatest pleasure in the world is to 
meet with those here whom we shall ever Hve with in heaven. Those who 
are good should not spend such opportunities fruitlessly. 

And to this end, labour for the graces of the communion of saints; for 
there is such a state. We believe it as an article of our creed. How shall 
we approve ourselves to be such as have interest unto the communion of 
saints, unless we have spirits able to communicate good to others? pitiful 
and loving spirits, that we may speak a word in due season. 

What a world of precious time is spent in idle conversing, as if the time 
were a burden, and no improvement to be made of the good parts of others. 
Sometimes, though we know that which we ask of others as well as they 
do, yet notwithstanding good speeches will draw us to know it better, by 
giving occasion to speak more of it, wherewith the Spirit works moi'e 
effectually and im.prints it deeper, so that it shall be a more rooted know- 
ledge than before; for that doth good that is graciously known, and that is 
graciously known that the Spirit seals upon our souls. Perhaps the know- 
ledge I Jaave is not yet sealed sufficiently; it is not rooted by conference. 
Though I hear the same things again, yet I may hear them in a fresh 
manner, and so I may have it sealed deeper than before. Experience finds 
these things to be true. 

Again, ive should labour here to have our hearts inquisitive. The heathen 
man accounted it a grace in his scholar, and a sign that he would prove 
hopeful, because he was full of questions. Christians should be inquisitive 
of the ways of righteousness ; inquisitive of the right path which leads to 
heaven ; how to carry themselves in private, in their families ; how in all 
estates ; inquisitive of the excellency of Christ. ' What is thy beloved 
more than another beloved ? ' Questions end usually in resolutions ; for 
the soul will not rest but in satisfaction. Rest is the happiness of the soul, 
as it were. When a question is moved, it will not be quiet till it have 
satisfaction. Therefore doubting at the first, breeds resolution at the 
last. It is good therefore to raise questions of the practice of all neces- 
sary points ; and to improve the good parts and gifts of others that 
we converse with, to give satisfaction. What an excellent improve- 
ment is this of communion and company, when nothing troubles our 
spirit, but we may have satisfaction from others upon our proposing it. 
Perhaps God hath laid up in the parts of others, satisfaction to our souls ; 
and hath so determined that we shall be perplexed and vexed with scruples, 
till we have recourse to some whom he hath appointed to be helpful to us 
in this kind. Many go mourning a gi-eat part of their days in a kind of 
sullenness this way, because that they do not open their estate to others. You 
see here the contrary practice of the church. She doubles the question : 
'What is thy beloved more than another beloved, thou fairest among women? 
what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us ? 


What is thy beloved more than another beloved, thou fairest among ivomen? 
what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? 
My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thoxisand. — Cant. 
V. 9, 10. 

The last time we met we left the church sick of love ; which strange affec- 

Cant. V. 9, 10.] ' what is thy beloved ?' 185 

tion in her, together with her passionate charge to the daughters of 
Jerusalem, moved them to make this question unto her, ' Wliat is thy be- 
loved more than another beloved,' &c. To be in love is much ; to conceal 
it is grievous ; to vent it with such fervency and passion breeds astonish- 
ment in these younger Christians, who wonder what that is which can so 
draw away the church's love, and run away with her affections. They knew 
no such excellencies of the person the chui'ch so admired, and therefore 
they double the question unto her, ' What is thy beloved?' &c. ' what is 
• thy beloved ? ' &c. Whereby we see the excellency of the soul which aspires 
still towards perfection ; not resting in any state inferior to the most ex- 
cellent. Therefore also is the church's sickness of love here, who desires 
a nearer union and communion with Christ than she at this time had. 

For there are degrees of spmtual languishing. Till ice be in heaven we 
are ahcaijs under some degree of this siclmess of love ; though the soul have 
more communion at one time than at another. Yea, the angels are under 
this wish to see Christ, together with his church, in full perfection. So 
that until we be in heaven, where shall be a perfect reunion of soul and 
body, and of all the members of the church together, there is a kind of 
sickness attending upon the church and a languishing. 

The question asked is, 

' WTiat is thy beloved more than another's beloved, thou fairest among 
women ?' 

What ! now fair when her veil was taken away ? now fair when the 
watchmen abased* her ? now fair when she was disgraced ? Yes ; now fair, 
and now fair in the sight of the daughters of Jerusalem, and in the sight 
of Christ that calls her the fairest among women. So that under all dis- 
gi'aces, infii-mities, and scandals ; under all the shame that riseth in the 
soul upon sin ; under all these clouds there is an excellency of the church. 
She is, ' the fairest among women,' notwithstanding all these. * thou 
fairest among women.' 

Quest. Whence comes this fairness, under such seeming foulness and 
disgrace ? 

Ans. It comes from without. It is borrowed beauty, as you have it, 
Ezek. xvi, 1, 2. By nature we lie in our blood. There must be a beauty 
put upon us. We are fair with the beauty that we have out of Christ's 
wardrobe. The church shines in the beams of Christ's righteousness ; 
she is not bom thus fair, but new-bom fairer. The chui'ch of Christ is all 
glorious, but it is within, not seen of the world, Ps. xlv. 13. She hath a 
Ufe, but it is a hidden Hfe, ' our glory and our life is hidden in Christ,' 
Col. iii. 3. It is hid sometimes £fom the church itself, who sees only her 
deformity and not her beauty, her death but not her life, because her ' life 
is hid.' Here is a mystery of religion. The church is never more fair than 
when she judr/eth herself to be most deformed ; never more happy than when 
she judijeth herself to he miserable: never more strong than ivhen she feels her- 
self to heiveak; never more righteous than ivhen she feels herself to be most 
burdened with the guilt of her own sins, because the sense of one contrary 
forceth to another. The sense of ill forceth us to the fountain of good, to 
have supply thence. ' "When I am weak, then am I strong,' saith Paul, 
2 Cor. xii. 10. Grace and strength is perfect in weakness. 

Use. This should teach us what to judge of the church and people of 
God ; even under their seeming disgraces, yet to judge of them as the ex- 
eellentest people in the world, 'All my delight is in those that are ex- 

* Qu. ' abused ?' — G. 


cellent,' Ps. xvi. 3 ; to join ourselves to them. Especially this is here to 
be understood of the church, as it is the mystical body of Christ ; not as 
a mixed body, as a visible church, ' but as it is the temple of the Holy Ghost,' 
1 Cor. iii. 17. 

The visible church hath terms of excellency put upon it sometimes, but 
it is in regard of the better part. As gold unrefined is called gold, because 
gold is the better part ; and a heap of wheat unwinnowed is called wheat, 
though there be much chaff in it. The body of Christ itself hath always 
excellent terms given it, ' thou fairest among women.' "* 

Those that look upon the church with the spectacles of malice can see 
no such beauty in her, though to espy out faults (as the devil could in Job, 
Job i. 9, seq.), to quarrel, to slander, they are quick-sighted enough. But 
we see here the church in the judgment of the ' daughters of Jerusalem,' 
that she is the ' fairest among women.' 

The papists have a painted beauty for their catholic church, but here is 
no such beauty. It becomes a whore to be painted to be as fair as her 
hands can make her, with feigned beauty. But the church of Christ hath a 
beauty from her husband, a real, spiritual beauty, not discerned of the world. 

Use. This should be of use to God's children themselves, to help them in 
the vpbraidinrfs of conscience (as if they had no goodness in them), because 
therj have a great deal of ill. Christians should have a double eye, one to 
set and fix upon that which is ill in them, to humble them ; and another 
upon that which is supernaturally gracious in them, to encourage them- 
selves. They should look upon themselves as Christ looks upon them, 
and judge of themselves as he judgeth of them, by the better part. He 
looks not so much what ill we have, for that shall be wrought out by little 
and little, and be abolished. It is condemned already, and it shall be exe- 
cuted by little and little, till it be wholly abolished. But he looks upon us 
in regard of the better part. So should we look upon ourselves, though 
otherwhiles upon our black feet (our infirmities) when we are tempted to 
pride and haughtiness. But always let the mean thoughts we conceive of 
ourselves make us to fly to Christ. 

* What is thy beloved more than another beloved ? ' 

Here is a question, and a question answered with a question. Questions 
they breed knowledge ; as the Greek proverb is, doubtings breed resolu- 
tion. Whereupon the inquisitive soul usually proves the most learned, 
judicious, and wise soul. Therefore that great philosopher* counted it as a 
virtue amongst his scholars that they would be inquisitive. So the scholars 
of righteousness are inquisitive, ' They inquire the way to Canaan, and the 
way to Zion with their faces thitherwards,' Jer. 1. 5. 

It is a special part of Christians' wisdom to improve the excellency of 
others by questions ; to have a bucket to draw out of the deep wells of 
others. As Solomon saith, ' The heart of a wise man is as deep waters, 
but a man of understanding can tell how to fetch those waters out.' There 
be many men of deep and excellent parts which are lost in the world, be- 
cause men know not how to improve them. Therefore it is good, while 
we have men excellent in any kind, to make use of them. It is an honour 
to God as well as a commodity to ourselves. Doth God suffer hghts to 
shine in the world that we should take no notice of them ? It is a wi'ong 
to ourselves and a dishonour to God. 

' What is thy beloved more than another beloved ? ' &c. 

A further point from hence is, that if we would give encouragement to others 
* That is, Socrates in Plato's ' Dialogues.' — G. 

Cant. V. 9, 10.] ' my beloved is avhits and euddt.' 137 

to repair to us for any good, we should learn to he so excellent as to adorn 

' thou fairest among women, what is thy beloved ?' &c. They inquire 
of her, because they have a good conceit of her. A world of good might 
be done if there were bred a good conceit of men in others. We say in 
sickness, A good conceit of the physician is half the cure. So in teach- 
ing, a good conceit of the teacher is half the learning. ' The daughters of 
Jerusalem' had a good conceit here in their questioning of the church. * O 
thou fairest among women, what is thy beloved more than another beloved ? ' 
Let us labom% therefore, to be such as may bring honour and credit to 
religion, and make it lovely ; that what we do may make others think we 
do what we do to great purpose ; which is ofttimes a special means and 
occasion of their conversion. Though properly the cause of conversion be 
the Spirit of God in the ordinances, yet the inducement, many times, and 
occasion, is the observation of the course and carriage of those that excel 
and are lvno^vIl to be eminent in parts and in graces. Emulation adds 
spurs to the soul. Do they take such courses that are wiser thtin I, and 
shall not I take the Uke course too ? Paul saith, the emulation of the 
Gentiles shall be a means of the conversion of the Jews, Rom. xi. 11. 
"When they shall see them embrace Christ, they will be encouraged to do so 
also. What shall we think, therefore, of them that live so as that they 
bring an evil report, scandal, and reproach upon religion ? Great and 
fearful is their ^\ickedness, that by their ill conversation, like Hophni and 
Phinehas, discredit the ordinances of the Lord, 1 Sam. ii. 17. 

Now the chui'ch thus answers the former question touching Christ, * My 
beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest of ten thousand.' She is not afraid 
to set out her beloved's beauty ;, for there is no envy in spiritual things. 
It is want of wisdom amongst men to commend a thing that is verj'- lovely to 
others, and so to set an edge upon their aliections when they cannot both 
share ; and the more one hath, the less another hath of all things here 
below. But in spiritual things there is no envy at the sharing of others in 
that we love ourselves, because all may be loved alike. Christ hath grace 
and affection enough for all his. He hath not, as Esau speaks, but ' one 
blessing.' No, he can make all his happy. Therefore the church stands 
not upon terms. When the 'daughters of Jerusalem' inquire about her be- 
loved, I tell you freely, says she, what my beloved is. First, in general, the 
answer is, ' My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.' 
Then aftei-wards there is a specification of the particulars. She will not 
stand upon the gi'oss, but admires* at every parcel in the thing beloved. 
Every thing is lovely, as we shall see in particulars afterwards. 

' I\Iy beloved is white and niddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.' 

We wiU take that which is safe, because we will have sm-e footing, aa 
near as we can, in this mystical portion of Scripture. 

Quest. AVhat is that white and ruddy '? Why doth the chm-ch set forth 
the spiritual excellencies of Christ by that which is most outwardly excellent 
and most beautiful ? 

Ans. Because of all complexions, the mixed complexion of these two 
colours, white and ruddy, is the pm-est and the best. Therefore she sets 
out the beauty and the spiritual excellency of Christ b}' this ' white and 
ruddy.' Beauty ariseth of the mixture of these two. First, she sets out 
IJie beauty of Christ positively ; and then, bj^ way of comparison, ' the 
chiefest among ten thousand. 

* That is, ' wonders.' — G. 


But what is this white and ruddy ? what is beauty ? 

1. To the making of beauty there is required a sound, healthy constitu- 
tion, so as the particulars have a due •proportion. There must be a har- 
mony of the parts, one suiting with one another ; for comehness stands in 
oneness, when many things, as it were, are one. Uncomehness is in diver- 
sity, when diverse things are jumbled together that belong to many heads ; 
as we say it is uncomely to have an old man's head on a young man's 
shoulders. But when all things are so suited that they make one, agreeing 
exactly, there is beauty and comeliness. 

2. Besides soundness of constitution and comeliness of proportion, there 
is a grace of colour that maketh beauty, which ariseth out of the other. So 
that soundness and goodness of constitution, together with the exact pro- 
portion of the variety of parts, having with it this gracefulness of colour 
and complexion, makes up that which we call beauty. In a word, then, 
this carnation colour, white and ruddy, may be understood of that excellent 
and sweet mixture that makes such a gracefulness in Christ. In him there 
is wondefful purity and holiness, and yet a wonderful weakness. There is 
God the ' great God' and a piece of earth, of flesh in one person; a bloody, 
pierced, and a glorious shining body ; humility and glory : justice, won- 
derful justice, and yet exceeding love and mercy : justice to his enemies, 
mercy to his children. 

Ohs. Christ is a most beautiful person, not as God only, but as man, the 
Mediator, God and man. The person of the Mediator is a beautiful person, 
as Ps. xlv. 2, there is a notable description of Chi'ist and of his church, ' Thou 
art fairer than the children of men, grace is poured into thy lips,' &c. 

But the loveliness and beauty of Christ is especially spiritual, in regard of 
the graces of his Spirit. A deformed pesson, man or woman, of a homely 
complexion and constitution, yet, notwithstanding, when we discern them 
by their conversation to be very wise and of a lovely and sweet spirit, very 
able and withal wondrous willing to impart their ubilities, being wondrous 
useful ; what a world of love doth it breed, though we see in their outward 
man nothing lovely ? The consideration of what sufficiency is in Christ, 
wisdom, power, goodness, and love, that made him come from heaven to 
earth, to take our nature upon him, to marry us, and join our nature to his 
(that he might join us to him in spiritual bonds) : the consideration of his 
meekness and gentleness, how he never turned any back again that came 
to him, should make us highly prize him. Indeed some went back of them- 
selves (as the young man in discontent. Mat. xix. 32), Christ turned them 
not back ; nay, he loved the appearance of goodness in the young man, 
and embraced him. He is of so sweet a nature that he never upbraided 
those that followed him with their former sins, as Peter with denial, and 
the like. He is of so gracious a nature that he took not notice of petty in- 
firmities in his disciples, but tells them of the danger of those sins that 
might hurt them : being of so sweet a nature that ' he will not quench the 
smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed,' Isa. xlii. 3 ; his whole life being 
nothing but a doing of good, ' he did all things well' (as the gospel speaks), 
excellent well, Mark vii. 37. 

Now, the consideration of what a gracious Spirit is in Christ, must needs 
be a loadstone of love, and make him beautiful. Therefore Bernard saith 
well. When I think of Christ, I think at once of God, full of majesty and 
glory ; and, at the same time, of man, full of meekness, gentleness, and 
sweetness. So, let us consider of Christ as of the ' mighty God,' powerful ; 
and withal consider of him as a gentle and mild man, that came riding 

Cant. V. 9, 10.] ' my bkloved is white and ruddy.' 139 

meekly on an ass, as the Scripture sets him out,' Mat. xxi. 5. He was for 
comers, and gave entertainment to all : * Come unto me, all ye that are 
weary and heavy laden,' &c., Mat. xi. 28. For the most weak and miserable 
person of all had the sweetest entertainment of him, ' He came to seek and 
to save that which was lost,' Luke xix. 10. Let us, I say, think of him 
both as of the great God, and withal as of meek man : the one to establish 
our souls, that he is able to do great matters ; the other to draw us to him 
because he loves us. "We are afraid to go to God, ' a consuming fire,' 
Heb. xii. 29 ; but now let us think we go to bone of our bone and flesh of 
our flesh, to our brother, to one that out of his goodness abased himself of 
purpose that we might be one with him : who loved us more than his own 
life, and was contented to carry the curse for us, that we might be blessed 
of God for ever, and to sufier a most painful and shameful death, that so ho 
might make us heirs of everlasting life. 

Christ is spiritually lovely, ' the chiefest of ten thousand.' The church 
sets him out by comparison, 'a standard-bearer,' a carrier of the 'banner 
often thousand.' For, as the goodliest men use to carry the ensign, the 
banner ; so he, the goodliest of all other, is the standard-bearer. 

Obs. Whence we gather, (hat Christ, as he is beautiful and good, so he is 
incom-parabhj, beyond all comparison good ; ' He is a standard bearer, one 
among ten thousand ; anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,' 
Ps. xlv. 7. 

First, for that he is so near to God by the personal union. 
And in regard likewise, that all others have all from him. Of his fukess 
we receive grace for grace, John i. 16. Ours is but a derivative fulness. His 
glory and shining is as the shining of the body of the sun ; ours as the light of 
the air, which is derived from the glory of the sun. Ours is but the fulness 
of the stream, and of the vessel, but the fulness of the fountain and of the 
spring is his. Thereupon he is called ' the head of the church,' Col. i. 18 ; 
the head is the tower of the body which hath all the five senses in it, and 
wisdom for the whole body. It seeth, heareth, understandeth, and doth all 
for the body ; having influence into the other parts of it. So Christ is 
above all, and hath influence into all his church, not only eminence, but 

What is excellent in the heavens ? The sun. So Christ is the ' Sun 
of righteousness,' Mai. iv. 2. The stars. He is the 'bright morning 
star,' Rev. xxii. 16. The light. He is the ' light of the world,' John ix. 
5. Come to all creatures ; you have not any excellent amongst them but 
Christ is styled from it. He is ' the lion of the tribe of Judah,' Rev. v. 5, 
the ' lily,' Cant. ii. 1, and the 'rose,' Cant. ii. 1, and 'the Lamb of God 
that taketh away the sins of the world,' John i. 29, ' the tree of Life,' &c., 
Eev. xxii. 2. There is not a thing necessaiy to nature, but you have a 
style from it given to Christ, to shew that he is as necessaiy as bread and 
water, and the food of life, John vi. 35 ; John iv. 14. When we see light, 
therefore, think of the ' true hght,' John ix. 5. When the sun, think of the 
' Sun of righteousness,' Mai. iv. 2. So remember ' the bread and water 
of life,' in our common food. Therefore the sacraments were ordained, 
that as we go to the sea by the conduct of rivers, so we might go to the 
sea of all excellency and goodness by the conduct of these rivers of goodness, 
to be led by every excellency in the creature, to that of our mediator Christ, 
who is ' the chiefest among ten thousand.' 

To come more particularly to speak of his excellencies, omitting his two 
natures in one person, God and man ; that we may consider his ofiiccs, a 


king, priest and prophet. He being the chief in all these, so all good kings be- 
fore him -were types of him, as also the prophets and priests. He was all iu 
one. Never any before him was king, priest, and prophet, as he was king, 
priest, and prophet in one. So in every respect he was incomparable above all. 

1. Such a king, as is king of kings ; and subdueth things unconquerable 
to all other kings, even the greatest enemies of all ; such a king as con- 
quered the world, death, hell, and sin, all things that are terrible. Death 
you know is called ' the king of fears,* because it terrifieth even kings 
themselves. Christ is such a king as takes away these terrible greatest 
ills of all ; such a king as rules over the soul and conscience, the best part 
of man, where he settles and stablisheth peace ; such a king as sets up his 
kingdom in our very souls and hearts, guides our thoughts, desires, actions, 
and affections, setting up a peaceable government there. So he is an 
incomparable king even in regard of that office. ' He is the chiefest often 
thousand ;' such a king as carries the government upon his own. shoulders, 
as it is Isa. ix. 6. He devolves not the care to another, to make it as he 
list and so be a cypher himself, but he carries all upon his own shoulder. 
He needs not a pope for his vicar. 

2. Again, as a priest, such a high priest as offered himself a sacrifice by 
his eternal Spirit. He as God offered up his manhood. Such a priest as 
hath satisfied the wrath of God, and reconciled God to man. All other 
priests were but types of this priest, who is such a priest as never dies, 
' but lives for ever to make intercession for us in heaven,' by virtue of that 
sacrifice which he offered in the days of his flesh. He was both priest 
and sacrifice. Such a ' priest as is touched with our infii-mities ;' so mild 
and gentle, full of pity and mercy. No priest to this priest. God only 
smelt a sweet smell from this sacrifice. 

3. And for \n.B prophetical office, he is a prophet beyond all others. Such 
a one as can instruct the soul. Other men can propound doctrines, but he 
can open the understanding, and hath the key of the heart, the ' key of 
David which can open the soul,' Luke xxiv. 45 . By his Holy Spirit he can 
make the very simple full of knowledge, Prov. i. 4, Such a prophet as hath 
his chair in the very heart of man ; this great ' Bishop of our souls,' 1 Pet. 
ii. 25, ' the Angel of the covenant,' that Aoyhg, ' the messenger of the 
Father.' So he is 'the chief of ten thousand,' consider him as king, as 
priest, or as prophet. 

Use. The use of this is exceeding pregnant, comfortable, and large, that 
we have such a Saviour, such an eminent person, so near, so peculiar to us. 
Our beloved, my beloved. If he were a ' beloved, the chief of ten thousand,' 
it were no great matter, but he is mine. He is thus excellent ; excellent 
considered with propriety in it, and a peculiar propriety .f Peculiarity and 
propriety, together with transcendent excellency, makes happy if there be 
any enjoying of it. Therefore repent not yourselves of your repentings, but 
think I have not cast away my love, but have set it upon such an object as 
deserves it, ' for my beloved is the chiefest of ten thousand.* 

Cf. Job. xviii. 14. — Q \ That is, ' property '= right. — Q. 

Cant. V. 10. J * the ohiefest among ten thousand.' 141 


My beloved is white and ruddy, the chief est among ten thousand. — Cant. V. 10. 

Love is such a boundless affection, that where it once breaks forth in praises 
upon a good foundation, it knows no measure ; as we see here in the church, 
who being provoked and, as it were, exasperated by the * daughters of 
Jerusalem ' to explain the excellency of him she had with so much affection 
incessantly sought after, that she might justify her choice (ere she descend 
into particulars), she breaks forth into this general description of her be- 
loved ; whereby she cuts off from all hopes of equalling him, ' My beloved 
is white and ruddy' (exceeding fair), nay, ' the chief among ten thousand' 
(none hke him). She would not have us think she had bestowed her love 
but on the most excellent of all, * the chief of ten thousand.' Well were it 
for us that we could do so in om' love, that we might be able to justify our 
choice ; not to spend it on sinful, vain, and unprofitable things, which cause 
repentance and mourning in the conclusion, whereof the church here 
worthily cleareth herself ; in that she had chosen * the chief among ten 

And most justly did she place her aflections upon so excellent an object, 
who was so full of ' all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the life of 
om- life, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,' Col. i. 11, 19 ; 
in whom was a gi'acious mixture and compound of all heavenly graces ; 
where gi'eatness and goodness, justice and mercy, God and man, meet in 
one person. Such an one who breaks no ' bruised reed, nor quenches the 
smoking flax,' Mat. xii. 20, who refuses not sinners, but invites them unto 
him, offering to heal all and cure all who come unto him. He is a king 
indeed, John xviii. 37. But this also approves her choice ; he rules all, 
commands all, judges all. What then can she want who hath such a friend, 
such a husband ? whose government is so winning, mild, and merciful ? 

He is not such a monarch as loves to get authority by sternness, like 
Eehoboam, 1 Kings xii. 12, but by those amiable gi'accs of gentleness and 
love. All the excellencies of holiness, purity, and righteousness, are sweetly 
tempered with love and meekness in him. You may see, for instance, how 
he takes his disciples' part against the Pharisees, and the poor woman's 
that came to wash his feet and kissed them, against the Pharisee that had 
invited him to dinner, Luke vii. 44. The church is a company of despised 
people, that are scorned of Pharisaical proud spirits ; who perhaps have 
morality and strength of parts to praise them vrith. Now Christ takes part 
with the broken spiiits, against all proud spirits. Howsoever he be gone 
to heaven (where he is full of majesty), yet he hath not forgotten his meek- 
ness nor changed his nature, with change of honour. He is now more 
honoured than he was, for ' he hath a name above all names, in heaven or 
in earth,' Acts iv. 12 ; yet he is pitiful still. ' Saul, Saul, why persecutost 
thou me?' Acts ix. 4. He makes the church's case his own still. To- 
gether with beams of glory, there are bowels of pity in him, the same that 
he had here upon earth ; which makes him so lovely to the ti'uly broken- 
hearted, believing soul, ' My beloved is white and ruddy.' 

He is set out likewise by comparing him with all others M'hatsoever, ' He is 
the chief of ten thousand ;' a certain number for an uncertain, that is, the chief 
among all. In all things Christ hath the pre-eminence. ' He is the first-bora 
from the dead,' Rom. viii. 29 ; 'he is the first-born of every creature,' Col. 


i. 15 ; lie is the eldest brother; he is the chief among all. For all kings, 
priests, an8 prophets before were but types and shadows of him. He, the body, 
the truth, and the substance. And (as was shewed before) he is all three in 
one, king, priest, and prophet ; the great doctor* and prophet of his church, 
that spake by all the former prophets, and speaks by his ministers to the 
end of the world. ' The angel of the covenant,' that Aoyhg, the Word, that 
expresseth his Father's breast ; that as he came from the bosom of his 
Father, so lays open his counsel to mankind. It was he that spake by Noah, 
and preached by his Spirit to the souls that are now in prison, as Peter 
speaks, 1 Pet. iii. 19. So, * he is the chief among all.' But especially in 
regard of his righteousness ; for which Paul ' accounted all dung and dross, 
to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, but the righteous- 
ness that is in Christ,' Phil. iii. 8 ; which is more than the righteousness 
of an angel, being the righteousness of God-man, and above all the righteous- 
ness of the law. 

Quest. But what is this to us or to the church ? 

Ans. Yes ; for his beauty and excellency is the church's, because he is 
the church's. ' My beloved is white and ruddy, and my beloved is the chief 
among ten thousand.' It is the peculiar interest that the church hath in 
Christ that doth relish her spirit ; excellency with propriety in him ; ' I am 
my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' The more excellent the husband is, 
the more excellent is the wife. She only shines in his beams. Therefore 
it is the interest that we have in Christ that endears Christ to us. But to 
come to more particular application of it. Is Christ thus excellent, super- 
excellent, thus transcendently excellent, ' white and ruddy,' the chief often 
thousand ?' This serves, 

1. To draw those that are not yet in Christ unto him. 

2. To comfort those that are in Christ. 

Use 1. First, those that are not yet in Christ, not contracted to him, to 
draw them ; ivhat can prevail more than that ichich is in Christ ? Beauty 
and excellencies, greatness and goodness. And indeed one main end of our 
calling, the ministry, is, to lay open and unfold the unsearchable riches of 
Christ ; to dig up the mine, thereby to draw the affections of those that 
belong to God to Christ. 

Use 2. But it is not enough to know that there are excellencies in Christ 
to draw us to him, but, there must be a sight of our misery ; what beggars we 
are, and how indebted. Before we are in Christ we are not our own. The 
devil lays claim to us that we are his ; death lays claim to us. We are 
under sin ; we cannot satisfy one of a thousand ; therefore this enforceth to 
make out to join with him that can discharge all our debts, answer all our 
suits, and non-suit Satan in the court of heaven. When once we are 
married to the Lord of heaven and earth, all is ours. We have a .large 
charter, ' All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's,' 
1 Cor iii. 22, 23. 

Quest. Why are aU things ours ? 

Ans. Because we are married to Christ, who is Lord of all. It is the 
end of our calling to sue for a marriage between Christ and every soul. We 
are the friends of the bride, to bring the church to him ; and the friends of 
the church, to bring Christ to them. It is the end of our ministry to bring 
the soul and Christ together ; and let no debts, no sins hinder. For espe- 
cially he invites such as are sensible of their sins. ' Where sin abounds, 
grace abounds much more,' Rom. v. 20. ' Come unto me, all ye that are 
* That is, ' teacher.' — G. 

Cant. V. lO.J ' the chiefest ajiong ten thousand. 143 

■weary and heavy ladeu,' Mat. xi. 28. And, ' Lie came to seek and to save 
that which was lost,' Luke xix. 10. He requires no more, but that we be 
sensible of our debts and miseries, which sense he works likewise by his 
Holy Spirit. 

Use 3. Again, for those that have entertained Christ, let thein see xchat an 
■excellent gracious person theji have entertained, who is ' the chief of ten 
thousand.' The world thinks them a company of silly, mean people, that 
make choice of Christ, religion, the word, and such things ; but there is a 
justification of their choice. They choose him that is ' the chief of ten 
thousand.' ' Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,' saith the 
spouse, ' for thy love is better than wine, nay, than life itself,' Cant. i. 2. 
A Christian must justify the choice that he hath made with Mary ' of the 
good part,' Luke x. 42 ; against all those that shall disparage his choice. 
Let the world account Chi'istians what they will ; that they are a company 
of deluded, besotted persons, fools and madmen ; the Christian is the only 
wise man. Wisdom is seen in choice especially ; and here is the choice of 
that which is excellent and most excellent of all, ' the chief often thousand.' 

Use 4. So also, tre may see here the desperate and base folhj of all whatso- 
ever, save true Christians. What do they make choice of to join to ? that 
which is base, the condemned world, vain, transitory things ; and refuse 
Christ. Are they in their right wits who refuse a husband that is noble for 
birth, rich for estate, mighty for power, abundant in kindness and love 
itself, every way excellent, and take a base, ignoble, beggarly person ? This 
is the choice of the world. God complains, ' Israel would none of me,' 
&c., Ps. Ixxxi. 11. What shall we judge therefore of those that will none 
of Christ when he woos and sues them ; but prefer with Esau a ' mess of 
pottage,' before their eternal birthright, Heb. xii. 16 ; with Adam, an apple 
before paradise ; and with Judas, thirty pieces of silver before Christ him- 
self. This is the state of many men. To be married to Christ is to take 
him for an husband ; to be ruled by him in all things. Now when we pre- 
fer base commodities and contentments before peace of conscience and the 
cnjojing of his love — what is it, but for pelf and commodit}', thirty pieces 
of silver (perhaps for sixpence, a thing of nothing), to refuse Christ. Yet 
this is the condition of base worldlings that live by sense and not by faith. 
So then as it serves to comfort those that have made a true choice ; so it 
serves to Shew the madness and folly of all others, which one day will feel 
their hearts full of horror and confusion, and their faces of shame, when 
they shall think. What? hath Christ made such suit to my heart to win my 
love ? hath he ordained a ministry for to bring me in ? made such large 
promises ? is he so excellent ? and was this discovered to me, and yet would 
I none of him? what did I choose, and what did«I leave? I left Christ 
with all his riches, and made choice of the ' pleasures and profits of sin, 
which are but for a season,' Heb. xi. 25. When the conscience is once 
thoroughly awaked, this will torment it, — the punishment of loss, not of loss 
simply, as the loss of Christ and the loss of heaven, but the loss of Christ and 
of heaven so discovered and opened. Therefore there is no condition in the 
world so terrible as of those that live in the church, and hear those things 
of Christ crucified unfolded to them before their eyes. As Paul speaks of 
the ministiy, it makes Christ's cross so open to them as if he had been 
crucified before their eyes, Gal. iii. 1. Yet notwithstanding [they] yield to 
their base heart's desires and aflcctions before these excellencies ; which if 
they had a spirit of faith would draw their hearts to him. 

Therefore let us consider how we hear those things. It concerns ua 


nearly. On the one side we see what we get if we join with Christ ; we 
have him and his. On the contrary, we lose him ; and not only so, but 
we gain eternal misery, and perish eternally. what baseness of mind 
possesseth us ! Christ left all things in love to us, and we leave Christ for 
any paltry thing in the world ; almost to please and content the humours 
of sinful men, to attain a few empty titles, to get a little wealth, enjoy a 
little pleasure. You see then the equity of that terrible commination* that 
you have, ' If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema 
Maran-atha,' 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Let him be accursed for ever that loves not 
the Lord Jesus Christ. If any man sin there is a remedy to discharge his 
sin in Jesus Christ, if he will many him and take him ; but when Christ is 
offered and we will have none of him, we sin against the gospel ; and then 
there is no remedy ; there is nothing but ' Anathema and Maran-atha.' 
Therefore the most dangerous sins of aU, are those against the light of the 
gospel ; when yet we choose rather to live as we list, than to join ourselves 
to Christ. To this purpose, Heb. ii., St Paul makes an use of the first 
chapter, wherein he sets out the excellency of Christ, whom the angels 
adore. He is so beautiful, so lovely that God the Father is in love with 
him, and pronounceth, ' This is my beloved Son,' Mat. iii. 17. In the be- 
ginning of the second chapter, ' '\Vherefore,' saith he, ' how shall we escape 
if we neglect so great salvation; for if they escaped not that despised Moses' 
law, &c., how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ? ' Heb. ii. 3. 
He says not, if we oppose Christ, but if we neglect him, if we do not love 
so great salvation ; as 2 Thess. i. 8, it is said, ' Christ will come in flaming 
fire to take vengeance of all those that do not know God, and obey not tha 
gospel of Chiist,' though they do not persecute it. 

tlse 1. Therefore this reproves all civil, moral j^ersons that think they have 
riches enough. Not only debauched persons, but self-sufiicient persons, that 
think they have any righteousness of their own. Let them know that 
* Christ shall come in flaming fire, to take vengeance of such.' This is the 
scope of the second psalm, which ye know sets out the excellency of Christ, 
' I have set my king upon Zion,' Ps. ii. 6. God the Father there anoints 
Christ king of the chmxh. To what end ? * That we should kiss the Son,' 
kiss him with the kiss of subjection, as subjects do their prince ; with the 
kiss of love, as the spouse doth her husband ; and with the kiss of faith. 
But what if we do not kiss him, and subject ourselves to him, love him, 
and beheve in him ? ' If his wrath be once kindled, happy are aU those 
that trust in him.' He is a lamb, but such a one as can be angry. It is 
said, ' The kings and great persons of the world fly from the wrath of the 
Lamb,' Eev. vi. 16. He that is so sweet, mild, and gentle, if we join with 
him, on the contrary, if we come not unto him, we shall find the wrath of 
the Lamb a terrible wrath, which the greatest potentates in the world shall 
desire to be hid from. ' If his wrath be once kindled, blessed are all those 
that trust in him,' and woe be to them that do not receive him. 

Use 2. For us that profess om-selves to be in Chi-ist, and to be joined to 
him that is thus excellent, let us make this use, to make him the rule of our 
choice in other things. In the choice of friends, choose such as are friends 
to Christ. Take heed of society with idolaters, or with profane, wretched 
persons. If you will be joined to Christ, and profess yourselves to be so, 
then let us join to none but those that we can enjoy and Christ too. So 
in marriage, let the rule of choice be the love of Christ. And likewise, let 
the measure of our respect to all things be the respect to Christ. Let us 
* That is, ' denunciation, threatening.' — G. 

Cant. V. 10.] * the chiefest among ten thousand. 145 

measure our love to wife and children, to kindred, friends, and to all crea- 
tures whatsoever, as it may stand with love to Christ. Obey in the Lord, 
marry in the Lord, do all things in the Lord, so as may stand with the love 
and allowance of the Lord, 1 Cor. vii. 39, 40. 

Use 3. Make also a use of direction, how to come to value Christ thus, as 
to keep an high esteem of him. For this follows infallibly and undeniably, 
if Christ be ' the chief of ten thousand,' he must have the chief of our 
affections ' above ten thousand.' For, as he is in excellency, he must have 
place in our hearts answerable thereunto ; for then our souls are as they 
should be, when they judge of, and affect things as they are in themselves. 

1. First, let us enter into a serious consideration of the need we have oj 
Christ, of our misery without him, of our happiness if ive be joined with him. 
The soul being thus convinced, the affections must needs follow the sancti- 
fied judgment. 

What will come of it if Chiist be set in the highest place in our heart ? 
If we crown him there, and make him ' King of kings and Lord of lords,' 
in a hearty submitting of all the affections of the soul to him ? While the 
soul continues in that frame it cannot be drawn to sin, discomfort, and 
despair. The honours, pleasures, and profits that are got by base engage- 
ments to the humours of men, what are these to Christ ? 'VVhen the soul 
is rightly possessed of Christ and of his excellency, it disdains that anything 
should come in competition with him. 

2. Again, it stands firm against all disconrar/ements whatsoever : for it sets 
Christ against all, who is the ' chief of ten thousand.' The soul in this 
case will set Chi-ist against the anger and wrath of God, against Satan, and 
all om- spii-itual enemies. Christ is the angel of the covenant. Satan is a 
lion, a roaring lion ; Christ the lion of the tribe of Judah. Satan a serpent, 
a dragon ; but Christ, the true brazen serpent, the very looking upon 
whom will take away all the stings and fiery darts of Satan whatsoever. 
'\\Tierefore it is said, 1 John v. 4, that faith is that that ' overcometh the 
world.' How doth faith overcome the world ? Because it overcomes all 
things in the world, as, on the right hand, pleasures and profits and hon- 
ours, and on the left hand, threatenings, pains, losses, and disgi-aces, by 
setting Christ against all. 

3. Again, if we would have a right judgment and esteem of Christ, let us 
labour to wean our affections as much as may be from other things. Fleshly 
hearts that have run so deeply into the world, and vanities of this present 
\\k\ it is in a sort an extraordinary task for them to be drawn away and 
pulled from the world, as a child from a full breast, which they have sucked 
so long. Now, for sweet affections that are tender, it is an excellent ad- 
vantage they have to consider betimes that there is that in religion and in 
the gospel which is worth their best and prime affections, the flower and 
marrow of them. Let them begin, with young Timothy, 2 Tim. iii. 15, 
Daniel, and Joseph, to love Christ from their childhood. It is a desperate 
folly, on the other hand, to put off the regard of good things till after, when 
we shall be less fit, when the understanding will be darkened, and the affec- 
tions blunted, when we shall not have that edge, nature being decayed, and 
the world having taken such possession of the soul that we shall not value 
this excellency. Therefore let us begin betimes to make up the marriage 
between Christ and the soul. No time, indeed, is too late, but it were 
to be wished that those that are young would be thus wise for their souls 

4. Besides, if we would hi ;!ily value Christ, heg of God a spirit that xve 



Inay judge arifjht of our corruptions, for in ivhat measure ire can discern the 
height, and breadth, and depth of our corrupt nature, in that measure shall 
tve judge of the height, and breadth, and depth of the excellency of Christ. 
The sweetest souls are the most humble souls. Those that love Christ 
most are those that have been stung most with the sense of their sins. 
Where sin most abounds in the sense and feeling of it, grace much more 
abounds in the sense and feeling of that, Rom. v. 20. Did ever soul love 
Christ more than that woman that had so many devils cast out of her ? 
Luke viii. 2. And Paul, that had such great sins forgiven ? Doth any 
man so love his creditor as he that hath much debt forgiven him ? It is 
our Saviour Christ's own reason. Therefore these two go always with the 
true chm'ch. 1. The true knowledge of the corruption of nature, and 
misery by reason of it ; and 2. The true sense and feeling of it, with true 
and hearty sorrow for it, lic. In popery they slight original sin, that 
mother, breeding sin. Actual sins be venial, and many sins no sins. And 
therefore they esteem so slightly of Christ that they join saints, the pope, 
works and satisfaction with him. Because they know not the depth of the 
malady, how black sin is, what a cursed estate we are in b}"- nature, they 
have slight, shallow, and weak conceits of sin. Therefore they have an- 
swerable weak and shallow conceits of Christ and of his righteousness and 
excellency. Therefore the conviction of our sins goeth before the conviction 
of righteousness in Christ, as it is said, ' The Holy Ghost shall convince 
the world of sin and then of righteousness,' John xvi. 8. For except the 
soul be convinced of sin, and of ill in itself, it will never be truly convinced 
of good and of righteousness in Christ. 

The Passover was always eaten with sour herbs, because it should add a 
relish to the feast. So Christ, the true Passover, we never relish truly 
without sour herbs, the consideration of sin, with the desert of it. Christ 
savours otherwise to a man humbled for his sins than he doth to another 
man not touched therewith ; otherwise to a poor man than he doth to a 
rich ; othenvise to a man that the world goes not well on his side than to 
a prosperous man. One savomy discourse of Christ relisheth more to an 
afflicted soul than seven discourses with such as are drunk with prosperity, 
not having a brain strong enough to conceive, nor an appetite to relish 
heavenly things. 

Therefore vfhj do we mui-mur at the cross, when all is to recover our 
spiritual taste and relish ? Solomon had lost his taste and rehsh of Christ. 
He never made his song of songs when he was in his idolatrous way, nor 
was so in love with Christ and his excellencies when he doted so much 
upon his wives. No ; but when he had recovered his spirit's taste and 
relish of heavenly things once, then made he the book of the preacher. 
When he had run through variety of things, and saw all to be nothing but 
vexation of spirit, and besides that vanity, then he passeth his verdict upon 
all things, that they were vanity. So it is with us, we can hardly prize 
Christ without some afflictions, some cross or other. Therefore here the 
church is fain to endure a spiritual desertion, to set an edge upon her 
affections. Now, when she is thus in her desertions, ' Christ is white and 
ruddy, the chief of ten thousand.' 

We value more, and set a higher price on things in the want of them — 
such is our corruption — than in the enjoying of them. And if God remem- 
ber us not with affliction, then let us afflict, humble, and judge ourselves ; 
enter into our own souls, to view how we stand affected to Christ, to heaven, 
and to heavenly things. How do I relish and esteem them ? If I have 

Cant. V. 10-13.] ' the ciiiefest among ten thousand.' 147 

lost my esteem and valuing, where have I lost it ? Consider in what sin, in 
what pleasure, in what company I lost it ; and converse no more with such 
as dull our aftections to heavenly things. 

4. And let us make use likewise of our infiwiiiies and sins to this jnuyose, 
to set an hir/h price on the excellencies of Christ. We carry about us always 
infirmities and corruptions. What use shall we make of them ? Not to 
trust to our own righteousness, which is ' as a defiled cloth,' Isa. Ixiv. 6, 
but fly to Christ's righteousness, which is the righteousness of God-man, 
all being as dung and dross in regard of that. Often think with thyself. 
What am I ? a poor sinful creature ; but I have a righteousness in Christ that 
answers all. I am weak in myself, but Christ is strong, and I am strong 
in him. I am foolish in myself, but I am wise in him. What I want in 
myself I have in him. He is mine, and his righteousness is mine, which 
is the righteousness of God-man. Being clothed with this, I stand safe 
against conscience, hell, wrath, and whatsoever. Though I have daily ex- 
perience of my sins, yet there is more righteousness in Christ, who is mine, 
and who is the chief of ten thousand, than there is sin in me. When thus 
we shall know Christ, then we shall know him to pm-pose. 


My hehved is white and ruddy, the chief est among ten thousand. His head 
is as fine gold ; his locks are bushy and black as a raven; his eyes are 
as the eyes of doves, by the rivers of waters, tvashed ivith milk, and fitly 
set, d-c.—Gj^T. V. 10, 11, 12, 13. 

Obj. Hence likewise we may answer some doubts that may arise ; as why 
the death of one man, Christ, should be of value for satisfaction for the 
sins of the whole world. How can this be ? 

Ans. but what kind of man was he ? ' The chief among ten thousand,' 
especially considering that his excellency ariseth from the grace of his 
personal union of God and man. The fij-st Adam tainted thousands, and 
would have tainted a world of men more if there had been more ; but he 
was mere man that did this. And shall not Christ, God and man, the 
second Adam, advance the world, and ten thousand worlds if there had been 
more ? He is chief among ten thousand. 

' His head is as most fine gold ; his locks are bushy and black as a 
raven,' &c. 

1. Positively, 'He is white and ruddy.' 2. Comparatively, 'He is the 
chiefest of ten thousand.' 

The church doth not think it sufiicient, in general, to set out Christ thus ; 
but she descends into a particular description of him by all the parts of a 
body that are conspicuous. First, in general observe hence, that it is the 
nature of love upon all occasions to reflect upon the thing loved. As the 
church here, from things that are excellent in the world, borrows phrases 
and comparisons to set out the excellency of Christ, exalting him above any 
other thing. Whatsoever the soul of a Chi-istian sees in heaven or earth, 
it takes occasion thence to think of Christ. 

Again, in general, obsei-ve from hence, seeing the church fetcheth com- 
pai'ison from doves' eyes, from the body of a man and other things, that 
tliere are some beams of excellency in every creature. There is somewhat of 


God in every creature. This makes the meditation of the creature to be 
useful. There is none, even the meanest, but it hath a being, and thereby 
in a sort sets out the being of God. Why doth God style himself a shield, 
a rock, a buckler, a shadow, and the like ? but to shew that there is some- 
thing of him in these. And therefore to teach us to rise from them to him, 
in whom all those excellencies that are scattered in them are united. 

In innocency we knew God, and in him we had knowledge of the creature ; 
but now we are fain to help ourselves from the knowledge of the creature to 
rise to the knowledge of God. 

' His head is as fine gold.' A little in general. See the boldness and 
largeness of the church's affections, who, though she had been ill entreated 
by the watchmen and others, yet is she not disheartened for all this. No ; 
she goes on and sets out particular commendations of her beloved. Where 
love hath any strength, no water can quench it. You see the church here 
found but cold entertainment from the watchmen and others that should 
have been better. 

Nay, she was in desertion, yet she was not discouraged. Nay, not from 
the desertion that Christ left her in ; but she seeks after him whom her 
soul loved. Oh ! this is the sign of a true, sanctified soul, touched from 
heaven, never to give over seeking of Christ ; nor setting out his praises. 
No, though it thinks itself not beloved of Christ. Ask such ones. Do you 
love God, his children, and his word ? Oh ! you shall have them eloquent. 
No words are enough to set out their affections. 

And this is one reason, which we may note by the way, why God plants 
in his children, at their first conversion, a sweet love, which we call, ' the 
first love,' that when desertions come they may call to mind what they felt 
from Christ, and what they bore to him ; and thereupon the church 
concludes, ' I will return to my first love, for then was I better than now,' 
Hos. ii. 7. The church here, from what doth she commend her beloved, 
but from somewhat that was left Ib her soul, some inward taste of the love 
of Christ in her ? She called to mind how it was with her before in the 
former part of this, and in the latter end of the fonner chapter ; what an 
excellent estate she had been in. This helped her to recover herself. 

Now you may say, Why is she so exact in reckoning up so many parti- 
culars of her beloved, his head, locks, eyes, hps, and such like ? 

Why? 1. It is from largeness of affection. A large heart hath alway 
large expressions. When we are barren in expressions towards Christ, and 
of good things, whence comes this but from narrow, poor affections? The 
church had large affections ; therefore she had suitable expressions. 

And then, 2. She is thus particular, because Christ hath not one but 
many excellencies. Everything in him is excellent, inward and outward, 
as his head, &c. For indeed beauty consists not in sweetness of colour 
only, but in affinity and proportion of all parts. Now there is all sweet 
proportion in Christ. So it should be with Christians. They should not 
have one excellency, but many. Those that receive grace for grace from 
Christ, John i. 16, have not only head, eyes, hands, and feet good ; but 
all lovely, ' grace for grace,' answerable to the variety of graces in Jesus 
Christ, in whom all things jointly, and everything severally, are lovely. 

Then, 3. She sheweth her particular care and study, to be exact in this 
knowledge of Christ. To rip him up and anatomise him thus, from head 
to foot, it argueth she had studied Christ well, ere she could attain this ex- 
cellency. So it should be the study and care of every Christian, to study 
the excellencies of Christ, not only in the gross, to say as much as you have 

Cant. V. 10-13.] ' his head is as fine gold.' 149 

in tlie Creed ; he was bora for us of the Virgin Mar}^ was crucified, dead, 
and buried, &c., which ever}' child can say ; but to be able to particularize 
the high perfections and excellencies of Christ, as the church here ; to study 
his nature, offices, the state he was in, and how he carried himself in his 
humiliation and exaltation ; what good we have by both states, redemption 
by his abasement ; application of it by his advancement ; what he did for 
us on earth ; what he doth in heaven ; what in justification, adoption, sanc- 
tification, and in the glory to come. Study everything, and warm the heart 
with the meditation of them. 

This particular spreading and laying open the excellencies of Christ is a 
thing worthy of a Christian. We make slight work of religion. We can 
be particular and eloquent enough in other things, but in that wherein all 
eloquence is too little, how barren are we ! how shamefaced to speak of 
Christ and his excellencies in base company, as if it were a dishonour ! Let 
us therefore learn this from the church here, to be much in thoughts and 
meditations of the excellencies of Christ, and so our expressions will be 
answerable to our meditations. So the holy fathers that were godly (till 
another kind of divinity came into the world, of querks* and subtilties) there 
was none of them but was excellent this way. Paul admirable, accounting 
' all dung and di'oss in comparison of Christ.' In speaking of him, when he 
begins, he goes on from one thing to another, as if he were ravished, and 
knew not how nor where to end. 

The soul hath sights of Christ that God shews to it, and which the soul pre- 
sents to itself by the help of the Spirit. The sights that God in this kind 
shews, are to those in affliction especially ; as Daniel and Isaiah saw Christ 
in his glory in a vision. So Ezekiel had a vision, and John, Kev. i., where 
Christ was presented to him gloriously. So there is a glorious description 
of Christ present to the church. Rev. iv. 5. 

And as there are sights let down from God into the soul, so there are 
sights that the soul frames of Christ, such as the church here conceives of 
him by faith. Thus Moses saw him before he was incarnate, and Abraham 
saw his day and rejoiced, John viii. 56 : so should we now have spiritual 
sights, ideas of Christ framed to our souls. This is to bestow oui- souls as 
we should do (m). So much for general, now we come to some particulars. 
' His head is as fine gold ; his locks are bushy and black as a raven.' 

' His head is as fine gold.' He begins to set out the excellency of the 
chief part, the head. The head of Christ is God, as it is 1 Cor. xi. 3. 
He is above all, and God only is above him. All is yours, and you are 
Christ's, and Chi-ist is God's, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. But that is not so 
much intended here, as to shew Chiist's headship over the church, as God 
and man. His head is as fine gold, that is, his government and headship 
is a most sweet and golden government. 

Daniel ii. You have an imago of the monarchies ; the first whereof had 
a golden head, which was the Chaldean. The best monarchy is set out by 
the best metal, — gold; so Chi'ist, the head of the church, is a precious head, 
a head of gold. 

A head hath an eminency above all others ; an influence and motion 
above all other parts. It is the seat of the senses. So this golden head is 
more eminent than all, governs the whole church and hath influence into 
all. In him we live, and move, and have our being, Acts xvii. 28. 

Quest. Why is Chi-ist as king thus resembled to an head of gold ? 

Ans. Because gold is the chief, the most precious, dui*able metal of all 
* That is, ' quirks,' = tricks. — G. 


others. Christ is a king for ever, and hath an everlasting government. 
Gold is also the most pliable metal. You may beat it out to leaves more 
than any other metal whatsoever, Christ is all gold indeed. His love hath 
beat himself out as lov? as may be, all for our good. What abasement like 
to Christ's ? That which is most precious is most communicating, as the 
sun, a glorious creatm-e. What doth so much good as it ? So Chiist, as 
he is the most excellent of all, ' the chief of ten thousand,' so is he also the 
most communicative. What good to the good that Christ did ? Ho was 
beaten, out of love to mankind, to lowest abasement for us. Though this 
be not mainly aimed at here, yet, by the way, speaking of gold, we may 
present to ourselves such comfortable meditations. 

Use 1. Well then, is Christ such an excellent head, a golden head, ' in 
whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom, Col. ii. 3, to govern his church ? 
What need ive then r/o to that triple crown, having such a golden head ? The 
apostasy of the church hath found out another golden head. Is not Christ 
precious enough ? Let us take heed of leaving the head Christ, as it is 
Col. ii. 19. It is a damnable thing to forsake him. Let the apostatical * 
church alone with her antichi-ist. 

2. Again, if Christ be a golden head, let us his members labour every one 
to he suitable. Though there be difference between the head and the mem- 
bers in many respects, especially in those three formei'ly named, emmency, 
government, and influence, yet for nature they are one. Head and mem- 
bers make but one. So that as the head of the body is gold, so should 
every member be. Therefore the seven churches are styled seven golden 
candlesticks. Everything in the tabernacle was gold, even to the snuffers, 
to shew that in the church everything is excellent. The tabernacle was 
gold, most of it, though it was covered with badgers' skins. The church 
indeed hath a poor covering as of badgers' skins, not gilded as hj^ocrites ; 
but it is precious within. Again, Christ, as he is gold, so he is fine gold, 
whole gold. He hath not only the crown on him, but his head is gold itself. 
Other kings, then* crowns are of gold, but their heads are not so. But 
there is such a precious treasure of wisdom in him that his head is gold. 
So let the chui'ch and every Christian labour, not to be gilt, but gold ; to 
be thoroughly good ; to have the inside as good as the outside, the heart 
as good as the conversation. The church is glorious within, Ps. xlv. 13. 
Beloved, is Christ an excellent golden head, and shall we have a base body ? 
Is he fit to be united to a golden head that is a common drunkard, a swearer, 
that is a beast in his life and conversation '? Is this suitable ? 

8. Again, is our head so golden, and v/hatsoever excellency we have, is 
it from our head ? Therefore as the church in the Revelation, ' let tis cast all 
our crowns at his feet,' Rev. iv. 10. Have we crowns of gold ? anything that 
is excellent within, any grace, any comfort ? Let us lay it down at his feet, 
for all is from him. Natural men have golden images of their own. Israel 
would have golden calves. Nebuchadnezzar sets up a golden image, and all 
must worship it. So in the declining times of the church : they framed 
golden images, that is, a golden whorish religion, gilded, and painted, 
framed by their own brain, whereunto all must stoop. But the true gold 
is that we must respect and submit ourselves unto and admire. Others are 
but golden dreams and images, as Nebuchadnezzar's was. Christ's head is of 
fine gold. 

All must be fine gold that comes from this head. His word is gold, 
sometimesf purged in the fire. His ordinances gold, in the Scripture 
* That is, 'apostate.' — Ed. t Qu. 'seven times?" — Ed. 

Cant. V. 10-13.] ' his eyes are as the eyes of doves.' 151 

phrase, Ps. xix. 10. The city, the new Jerasalem, -which signifies the state 
of the church in this world, when it shall be refined to the utmost, all is of 
gold ; the walls of precious stones ; the gates of pearl ; and the pavement 
of the streets of pure gold. Rev. xxi. 21, to shew the excellency of reforma- 
tion ; which golden times are yet to come. In the mean time let us go on 
and wait for them. 

' His locks are bushy, and black as a raven.' I think this is but comple- 
mental, to fill up the other. It is nothing but a commendation of his fresh- 
ness, a foil to beauty. Therefore not particularly to be stood upon. 

' His eyes are as doves' eyes by the rivers of waters,' &c. His eyes are 
as doves' eyes, and such eyes as are by the rivers of waters ; where they 
are cleansed and washed with milk that they may be the clearer, and fitly 
set ; neither goggle eyes, nor sunk into the head, but fitly set, as a jewel in 
a ring ; neither too much in, nor too much out, to set out the comeliness of 
this part, the eye, which is the glory of the face. 

Quest. Why is Christ said to have the eyes of doves ? 

Ans. The dove hath many enemies, especially the white dove is a fair 
mark for the birds of prey. Therefore God hath given that creature a quick 
sight, that she might discern her enemies. Thus the Scriptui-e helps us to 
conceive of the quickness of Christ's eye. Rev. v. 6. There are seven 
horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God. Here Christ 
the lamb, hath seven eyes and seven horns. What be these ? Christ hath 
not only horns of power, as the enemies have horns of violence. — He hath 
horn against horn ; but seven eyes, that is, a quick sight to see all the dan- 
ger the chm-ch is in, and seven eyes. Seven is a word of perfection, that 
is, he hath many eyes, an accm-ate sight. He hath not only an eye of pro- 
vidence over the whole world, but an eye of grace and favour, lively, and 
lovely in regard of his chm-ch. All things are naked and open before his 
eyes, as it is, Heb. iv. 13. He can see through us, he knows oiu- very 
hearts and reins, which he must do ex officio, because he must be our judge. 
He that is judge of all had need to have eyes that will pierce through all. 
It had need be a quick eye that must judge of the heart and aflectious. But 
what may we learn hence ? That we have a Saviour that hath doves' eyes, 
that is, clear eyes, able to discern. 

Use 1. Take it as a point first, of all comfort to the church, that when we 
have any imputation [that] lies upon us, that wo are thus and thus, Christ 
hath quick eyes, he knows our hearts. Thou knowest, saith Peter, Lord, 
that I love thee, John xxi. 15. In all false imputations, rest in the eyesight 
of Christ. He knows it is otherwise with us. 

Use 2. Then again, in all abasement, know that there is an eye that sees all. 
He sees with his eye and pities with his heart. As he hath a quick eye, 
so he hath a tender heart. Though he seems to sleep and to wink, it is 
but that we may wake him with our prayers ; which when we have done, 
we shall see that Christ hath seen all this while, and that the violence the 
enemies of God have offered to his church, the spouse, hath been in his 
sight, and that they shall know at length to their cost. 

Likewise it is a point of terror to all hypocrites and others, that think to 
blindfold Christ again. Can they blindfold him in heaven that hath this 
sharp eye ? No ; he sees all their courses' and projects, what they are and 
what they tend to ; and as he sees thed., so he will spread them all open ero 

Use 3. And as it is a point of comfort and terror, so it is a point of in- 
struction to us all, that ice having to deal uith a judge that sees all, to wor- 


shij} Christ in spirit. If we had knowledge that such an eye of God is 
fixed upon us in all places, in all our affections and actions, would we give 
liberty to base and filthy thoughts, to cruel designs, and to treacherous 
aims and intents ? to hatch a hell, as it were, in our hearts, and to carry a 
fair show outwardly. It could not be. Men are not afraid of their thoughts, 
affections, desires, and inward delights of their soul, because there is no 
eye of justice upon them. But if they did consider that the all-seeing God 
did observe these inward evils, and would call them to account one day for 
them, then they would be as well afraid to think ill as to do ill. 

' His cheeks are as beds of spices, and as sweet flowers.' 

Cheeks are the grace of the face. They are used here to denote the 
presence of Christ, which is sweet as spices and flowers. Not only his pre- 
sence is glorious in heaven, when we shall see that goodly person of Christ 
that became man for us, that transforming sight that shall make us like 
himself, but the spiritual presence of Christ in his ordinances which we are 
capable of here, this is as spices and flowers. 

Obj. But you will say, cheeks, face, and presence present colours to 
the eye, and not smells, as spices and flowers, which are the peculiar ob- 
ject of another sense. 

Ans. Oh, but Christ is the object of all the senses. Beloved, he is not 
only beauty to the eye, but sweetness to the smell, and to the taste. There- 
fore faith hath the name of all the senses, to see, hear, taste, and smell, 
and doth all, because it carries us to Christ, that is instead of all to us. 
But the point is, 

TJiat the manifestation of Christ to his church and children by his Spirit 
in any of his ordinances, is a sweet manifestation, and delectable as spices and 
■flowers ; as it is. Cant. i. 3 ; 'Because of the savour of thy good ointments, 
thy name is as an ointment poured out, therefore the virgins love 
thee.' The very name of Christ, when he is known and laid open by 
the ministry, is a precious ointment, and the virgins, that is, all chaste 
souls, follow him by the smell of his ointments. All his ordinances con- 
vey a sweetness to the soul. His sacraments are sweet, his word sweet, 
the communion of saints sweet. The presence of the sun, you know, is 
known in the spring time by the freshness of all things, which put forth 
the fife and little liveliness they have in them, some in blossoming, and 
some in flowers. That which lay, as it were, dead in winter, it comes out 
when the sun draws near ; so when Christ comes and shews his presence 
and face to the soul, he refresheth and delights it. 

Hence we see they are enemies to Christ and to the souls of God's 
people that hinder the manifestation of Christ, whereby his face might be 
seen, and his lovely cheeks discerned. Those that hate and undermine 
the ordinances of God, they hinder the comforts of their own souls. 

And they are enemies to Christ. For when hath Christ glory but when 
the virgins follow him in the scent of his sweet ointments ? "When the soul, 
in the sense of his sweetness, follows him, and cleaves to him with joy, 
love, and delight, this makes Christ Christ, and sets him up in the heart 
above all others. This is the proper work of the ordinances. Those, there- 
fore that are enemies to the ordinances of Christ, are enemies to the souls 
of God's people, and to the glory and honour of Christ himself. Thus far 
we may go safely, upon comparison of this with the other Scriptures. 

Cant. V. 13.] ' his lips abe like lilies.' 153 



lips are like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh ; his hands are as 
gold rings set with beryl ; his belly is as blight ivory overlaid uith sap- 
phire: his legs, &c. — Cant. V. 13. 

In speaking of these particulai-s we are to be very wary, for we have not 
that foundation as we have in other generals. For no doubt but the Spirit 
of God here did more intend to set out the lai-ge aflfection that the church 
had to Christ, than to insinuate any great particularity in every one of these. 
Therefore let us only cull out, and take those things that are of more easy 

' His lips are as lilies, dropping down sweet myrrh.' 

That is, his doctrine is as sweet as the lilies, and sound as the m\Trh, 
keeping from putrefaction, it being the nature of myrrh, as it is sound 
itself, so to make other things sound. In like manner, the speech of 
Christ makes the soul sound that embraceth it. What was ever more 
sweet than the truth of Christ ? When he spake himself, they all hung 
upon his lips, Luke iv. 20, as the phi-ase is in the gospel (n), as a man 
hangs upon the lips of another whom he desires and delights to hear speak, 
and they marvelled at the gracious words that came out of his lips. Grace 
was in his Hps, Ps. xlv. 2. All was sweet that came from him, for it came from 
the excellency of his Spirit. His words were dyed in these affections of 
his heart. In the learned language, the same word signifieth speech and 
reason (o), to intimate that speech is but the current of reason from the 
heart, the seat of reason. Therefore Christ's speeches were sweet, because 
his heart was sweet, full of all love, grace, mercy, and goodness. Mat. xii. 
34, 35. His heart was a treasure. His lips must needs then be sweet. 
Beloved, therefore let us hence take a trial of ourselves, what our condi- 
tion is, whether the words that come from Christ when he speaks in his 
ministry to us be sweet or not. 

The word, to some kind of men, is like the northern air, which parcheth 
and cutteth. Ahab could not endure the breath of Elias, 1 Kings xxi. 18, 
seq., nor Herodias the breath of John Baptist, Mark \i. 16, nor the Phari- 
sees the breath of Stephen and Paul, Luke vii. 54, Acts xxii. 22. So too 
many now-a-days cannot endure the breath of divine truth, when it cuts 
and pierceth. These words are arrows that stick. If they stick not 
savingly, they stick to killing. If we cannot endure Chiist's breath, we 
are not his spouse, nor have any communion with him. 

* His lips are Like hUes, dropping sweet myiTh,' &c. 

This is one excellency of Christ and of his truth, that it preserves the 
soul in a pure estate. It is pure itself, and so it preserves the soul. MjaTh 
is a Hquor that keeps from putrefaction. There is nothing that keeps the 
soul, but the word that endures for ever. Whereas, on the other side, error 
is of a putref}Tng nature, corrupting and defiling the soul. 

' His hands are as gold rings set with beryl,' &c. 

Hands are the instruments of actions. Christ's actions are precious. 
Whatsoever he doth to the church, nay, even when he doth use evil men 
to afflict and exercise the church, he hath a hand there, a golden, a precious 
hand, in the evil hand of wicked men. God doth all things by Christ. He 
is, as it were, God's hand, which all things pass through. Joseph was the 
second man of Eg}-pt, through whoso hands all things came to the rest, 


Heb. i. 2, Jolin v. 22 ; so all things come through Christ's hands to us ; 
and whatsoever is his handiwork is good. Even as it is said in the days 
of his flesh, ' he did all things well,' Mat. vii. 37, so stiU, in the church all 
his workmanship is exceeding well. Though we cannot see the excellencj'' 
of it, it is all well both in the government of the church and his workman- 
ship in our hearts, ' the new creature.' 

* His belly is as bright ivory overlaid,' &c. 

His bell}-, that is, his inward parts. In the Hebrew (p), it is used for 
the inward affections. They are as bright ivoiy overlaid with sapphires, that 
is, they are pure. All the inside of Christ, all his affections that he bears, 
are wondrous good. His love, his desires, his joys, his hatred, all pure, 
like pure water in a crj'stal glass. It may be stirred sometimes, but still 
it is clear. There are no dregs at the bottom, because there was no taint 
of sin in him. 

' His legs are as pillars of marble set on sockets of fine gold,' &c. 

That is, all his passages and ways are constant and firm, even as pillars 
of marble. His children are so likewise, as far as they are endued with his 
Spirit. Christ is yesterday, to-day, and the same for ever, Heb. xiii. 8. 
In regard of his enemies, he is set out in another manner of similitude, ' as 
having legs of brass to trample them all in pieces,' Rev. i. 15. But in 
respect of his constant truth and ways of goodness to his church, his legs 
are as pillars of marble. 

' His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.' 

Lebanon was a goodly forest lying on the north side of Judea, wherein 
were excellent plants of all kinds, especially cedars. Christ his counte- 
nance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars, that is, his presnece is goodly, 
stately, and majestical. So it is and will be when he shews himself, indeed, 
for the vindicating of his church. Then the enemies thereof shall know 
that his presence is as Lebanon, and excellent as the cedars. 

The children of God are like to cedars, too, for they are Christ mystical. 
Other men are as shrubs to them, men of no value ; but they are cedars, 
and grow as cedars in Lebanon, from perfection to perfection, bearing most 
fruit in their age. Wicked men sometimes are cedars, too, and are said to 
grow and flourish as the cedars in Lebanon. But look a while, and you 
shall see their place no more. They have no good root, no good founda- 
tion, Ps. xxxvii. 10. A Christian is a cedar set in Christ the chief cedar. 
He is a plant that grows in him. He hath an eternal root, and, therefore, 
he flourisheth eternally. 

' His mouth is most sweet, he is altogether lovely.' 

His mouth is most sweet. She doubles this commendation. She had 
said before, his lips are as lilies dropping sweet myrrh. Here she saith 
again of his mouth, it is most sweet, to shew that this is the chief lovely 
thing in Christ. The repetition argueth the seriousness of the church's 
affection to Christ, and of the excellency of that part. The main lovely 
thing is that which comes from his heart by his words and his lips ; as, indeed, 
the most excellent thing that we can think of is the expression of the heart 
of God in Christ, and of Christ's love to us. ' His mouth is most sweet.' 
And, indeed, the best discovery of a true afiection to Christ, and of a true 
estate in grace, is from our affection to the word of Christ. Wheresoever 
there is interest into Christ, there is a high respect to the word. ' My 
sheep hear my voice,' John x. 4 ; and you know what Peter saith, John 
vi. Many of Christ's hearers and followers forsook him, upon some hard 
speeches, as they thought, that came from him. Saith Christ to Peter, 

Cant. V. 13.] ' nis mouth is most sweet.' 155 

' Will ve also leave me ? ' Peter answered again, ' Whitlier, Lord, shall 
wo go ? Thou hast the words of eternal life,' John vi. G8. The apostles, 
that had the Spirit of God, perceived an incredible graciousness to sit on 
his lips, and therefore they hung upon his lips. ' Whither shall we go ? 
Thou hast the words of eternal life.' If we leave his speech, we leave our 
comfort, we leave our life. 

As a comment hereupon, see Ps. xix., where we have a high commenda- 
tion of God's excellency ; first, from the book of nature, the works of God : 
' the heavens declare the glory of God ;' then from the word of God ; and 
herein the psalmist is wondi'ous large. ' The law of the Lord is perfect, 
converting the soul ; the testimonies of the Lord are sure, making wise the 
simple ; the statutes of the Lord are right, and rejoice the heajrt ; the com- 
mandments of the Lord are sure, and enlighten the eyes; more to be 
desired than gold, yea, than fine gold ; sweeter also than tlie honey or the 

But mark the order. When is the word of God precious as gold, 
sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb, but when the former commenda- 
tion takes place ? Where the word is perfect, convei-ting- the soul, and 
where it is sure, making wise the simple, and where the fear of the Lord is 
clean, &c., there it is more to be desired than fine gold, and sweeter than 
the honeycomb. So the church here finding, first of all, the word to be a 
converting word, and giving understanding to the simple, she cannot but 
speak of the sweetness of the word of Christ. His lips are as lilies drop- 
ping sweet-smelling myrrh. His mouth is most sweet. Thus a man may 
know his estate in grace by his relish of the word. 

There is a divine and a heavenly relish in the word of God ; as, for 
instance, take the doctrine of his providence, ' that all things shall work 
together for the best to them that love God,' Rom. viii. 2S. What a sweet 
word is this ! A whole kingdom is not worth this promise, that whatso- 
ever befalls a Christian in this world, there is an overruling providence to 
sway all to good, to help forward his eternal good. 

That Christ will be present with us in all conditions, what a sweet word 
and promise is this ! Mat. xxviii. 20 ; ' that he will give his Holy Spirit, if 
we beg it,' Luke xi. 13 ; 'that he will not fail us nor forsake us,' Heb. 
xiii. 5 ; that ' if we confess our sins, and lay them open, he is merciful to 
forgive them,' 1 John i. 9 ; that ' if our sins were as red as scarlet, they 
shall all be white as wool,' Isa. i. 18. What kind of incredible sweetness is 
in these to a heart that is prepared for these comforts ! The doctrine of 
reconciliation, of adoption, of glory to come, of the ofiices of Christ and 
such like, how sweet are they ! They relish wondrously to a sanctified 

Let us therefore discern of om- estate in grace by this, how do we relish 
divine truths ? Are they connatural and suitable to us ? Do we love 
them more than our appointed food ? Are they dearer unto us than thou- 
sands of gold and silver ? Do we hke them above all other truths whatso- 
ever ? Ps. cxix. 72, 127. Eveiy tinith in its rank is lovely, and is a beam 
of God. For truth is of God wheresoever we find it. But what are other 
truths to this heavenly, soul-saving trath? this gospel-truth that is from 
Christ ? ' His mouth is most sweet.' 

In our nature there is a contrary disposition and antipathy to divine 
truth. We love the law better than the gospel, and any truth better than 
the law. We love a story, any trifling, baubling thing concerning our 
ordinary callings, better than divine truth. In divine truth, as things are 


more spiritual, so tlie more remote they are naturally from our love and 
liking. Evangelical truths will not down with a natural heart; such an 
one had rather hear a quaint point of some vice or virtue finely stood upon 
than anything in Christ, because he was never truly convinced of his cor- 
rupt and miserable estate by nature. But when the grace of God hath 
altered him, and his eyes are open to see his misery, then of all truths the 
truth of Christ favours* best. Those truths that come out of the mouth of 
Christ, and out of the ministry concerning Christ, they are the most sweet 
of all. Oh ! how sweet are those words in the gospel to the poor man, 
* Thy sins are forgiven thee,' Mat. ix. 2. Do you think they went not to 
his heart ? So to the woman, Luke vii. 47. Her many sins are for- 
given her, for she loved much. Oh ! they were words that went to her 
soul ! And to the thief on the cross, ' This day thou shalt be with me in 
paradise,' Luke xxiii. 43. How do you think those words affected him? 
So it is with us if ever we have been abased in the sense of our sins. Oh ! 
how sweet is a promise of mercy then ! ' He that brings it is as one of 
ten thousand, that comes to declare to man his righteousness. Job. xxxiii. 
23 ; to lay open the mercy that belongs to a distressed soul. Oh ! the 
very feet of those that bring these glad tidings are beautiful ! Kom. x. 15. 
When our blessed Saviour, after his resurrection, spake to Mary, and 
called her by her name, after that she had sought him and could not find 
him, ' Rabboni,' saith she. The words of Christ they melted her pre- 
sently. Let Christ once call us by our names, for he knows us by name, 
as he knew Moses, Exod. xxxiv. 27, Isa. xHii. 1 ; let him by his Spirit 
speak to us by name, and own us, then we call him Rabboni. We own 
him again, for what is our love but the reflection of his back again ? 
Therefore saith the psalmist, ' Let me hear the voice of joy and gladness, 
that the bones that thou hast broken may rejoice,' Ps. li. 8. ' Let me 
hear ; ' that is, I long for thy word to hear it ; not the bare ministerial 
word, but the word of the Spirit. But the church resteth not here, but 
saith further, 

' He is altogether lovely.' Altogether desirable; as if she should say, 
What should I stand upon particulars ? he is altogether, from top to toe, 
amiable, lovely, and delectable. 

' He is altogether lovely.' Lovely to God, to us, to the soul ; lovely to 
him that can best judge of loveliness. The judgment of God I hope will 
go current with us ; and what doth God the Father judge of Christ ? ' This 
is my beloved Son,' Mat. iii. 17. He is the Son of God's love. Col. i. 13, 
as God cannot but love his own image. He is lovely also as man, for he 
was pure and holy ; lovely as mediator by office, for he was anointed by 
God to convey the Father's love to us. He must needs be lovely in whom 
all others are loved. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ; 
out of him I am well pleased with nobody. And indeed he was filled with 
all graces that might make him lovely. All the treasures of wisdom are in 
him, and of his fulness we all receive grace for grace. He is made a store- 
house of all that is good for us. 

He is lovely to God in whatsoever he did. He carried himself lovely, 
and pleased his Father in all his doings and sufierings. God loved him 
especially, ' because he was obedient, even unto the death of the cross. 
Therefore God gave him a name above all names ; that at the name of 
Jesus every knee should bow, both in heaven and in earth,' Phil. ii. 8—10. 
As for the angels, they look upon him with admiration. They attended 
* Qu. 'savours?' — Ed. 

Cant. V. 13.] ' nE is altogether lovely.' 157 

him, and accountod it an honour to wait upon him. He is lovely to all 
ahove us, and shall he not he lovely to us ? 

Ohj. But you will say, Was he lovely when he was nailed on the cross, 
hung between two thieves, when he wore a crown of thorns, was whipped, 
laid grovelling on the ground, when he sweat water and blood ? What 
loveliness was in him when he was laid in his grave ? 

Ans. Oh! yes; then he was most lovely of all to us, by how much 
the more he was abased for us. This makes him more lovely that out of 
love he would abase himself so low. Wlien greatness and goodness meet 
together, how goodly is it ! That Christ, so great a majesty, should have 
such bowels of compassion ! Majesty alone is not lovely, but awful and 
fearful ; but joined with such condescending grace, is wondrous amiable. 
How lovely a sight is it to see so great a person to be so meek and gentle ! 
It was so beyond comparison lovely in the eyes of the disciples, that they 
stood and wondered to see him, who was the eternal Word of the Father, 
condescend to talk with a poor Samaritan woman, John iv. 6, seq. And what 
loveliness of carriage was in him to Peter, undeserving, after he had denied 
and forsworn him, yet to restore him to his former place that he had in his 
heart, loving him as much as ever he did before ! In a word, what sweet- 
ness, gentleness, bowels of meekness, pity, and compassion did he discover 
to those that were in misery ! We cannot insist upon particulars. 

There is a remarkable passage in the story of Alphonsus the king, not 
very well liked of some. \Vhen he saw a poor man pulling of his beast out 
of a ditch, he put to his hand to help him ; after which, as it is recorded, his 
subjects ever loved him the better. It was a wonderful condescending. 
And is it not as wonderful that the King of heaven and earth should stoop 
so low as to help us poor worms out of the ditch of hell and damnation ? 
and that, when he hath set us in a state of deliverance, he should not 
leave us there, but advance us to such a state and condition as is above 
oui' admiration, which neither heart can conceive nor tongue express ? Is 
not this wonderful condescending ? 

Use 1. That we may further improve this point. Is Christ altogethel 
lovely ; so lovely to us, and so beloved of God the Father ? Let ns then rest 
upon his obedience and rigJiteousness ; build upon it, that God cannot refuse that 
righteousness whose whole subject is altogether lovely. Let us come clothed 
in the garments of our Elder Brother, and then doubt not of acceptance ; 
for it is in Chi'ist that he loves us. In this well-beloved Son it is that 
God is well pleased with us. If we put on Christ's righteousness, we put 
on God's righteousness ; and then how can God hate us ? No more than 
he hates his own Son. Nay, he loves us, and that with the same lovo 
wherewith he loves him ; for he loves whole Christ mystical. Head and 
members, John x\'ii. 23. Let this strengthen our faith, that if Christ bo 
so altogether lovely in himself and to the Father, then we may comfortably 
come before the Father, clothed with the garments of him our Elder Brother, 
and so rest ourselves on the acceptation of his mediation, that is so beloved 
a mediator. 

Use 2. Again, if Christ be so lovely, * altogether lovely,' then let ks 
labour to be in him, that so we may be lovely to God ; because he is the 
first amiable thing in the world, in whom we are all lovely. All our love- 
liness is in beloved Christ. 

Use 3. Again, if Christ be so lovely, hei'c only ice have tchereupon to 
spend the marrow of our best affections. Is it not pity we should lose so 
much of our affections as we do upon other things ? Christ is altogether 


lovely ; why should we doat upon other things so much, and set up idols 
in our hearts above Christ ? Is he altogether lovely, and shall not ha 
have altogether our lovely affections, especially when we are commanded, 
under pain of a curse, to love the Lord Jesus ? Anathema Maran-atha to 
those that love not Christ, 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Let us therefore labour to 
place all our sweet affections that are to be exercised upon good, as love, 
joy, and delight, upon this object, this lovely deserving object, Christ, who 
is ' altogether lovely.' When we suffer a pure stream, as it were, to run 
through a dirty channel, our affections to run after the things of the world, 
which are worse than ourselves, we lose our affections and ourselves. 

Let, therefore, the whole stream of our affections be carried unto Christ. 
Love him, and whatsoever is his ; for he being altogether lovely, all that 
comes from him is lovely. His promises, his directions, his counsels, his 
children, his sacraments, are all lovely. ^Vhatsoever hath the stamp of Christ 
upon it, let us love it. We cannot bestow our hearts better, to lose ourselves 
in the love of Christ, and to forget ourselves and the love of all. Yea, to hate 
all in comparison of him, and to account all ' dung and dross ' compared with 
Christ, is the only way to find ourselves. And indeed we have a better 
condition in him, than in the world or in om'selves. Severed from him, 
our condition is vain, and will come to nothing ; but that we have in him 
is admirable and everlasting. We cannot conceive the happiness which 
we poor wretches are advanced to in Christ ; and what excellent things 
abide for us, which come from the love of God to us in Christ, who is so 
altogether lovely. Therefore let us labour to kindle in our hearts an 
affection towards Christ, all that we can, considering that he is thus lovely. 

the 4. And let us make an use of trial, ichether he he thus lovehj to us, or 
no. We may see hence whether we love Christ or no. We may judge of 
our love by our esteem. 

1. How do ice value Christ ? what price doth the church set on him? 
* He is the chief of ten thousand.' What place, then, should he have in 
our hearts ? If he be the chief of ten thousand, let us rather offend ten 
thousand than offend him. Let us say, with David, ' Whom have I in 
heaven but thee?' &c., Ps. Ixxiii. 25. And when the soul can say to 
Christ, or any that is Christ's (for I speak of him in the latitude of his 
truths, promises, sacraments, and communion with his children), ' What 
have I in heaven but thee ? ' &c., then it is in a happy condition. If these 
things have the same place in our esteem, as they have in respect of their 
own worth, then we may say truly, without hypocrisy, ' He is altogether 
lovely to us,' that we truly love him. 

2. In the next place, are ive ready to suffer for Christ ? We see the 
church here endures anything for Christ. She was misused of the watch- 
men. They scorned her, and her ' veil is taken away,' yet notwithstanding, 
she loves Christ still. Do we stand ready disposed to suffer for Christ ? 
of the world to be disgraced and censm-ed ? and yet are we resolved not to 
give over ? Nay, do we love Christ the more, and stick to his trath the 
faster ? Certainly where the love of Christ is, there is a spirit of fortitude, 
as we may see in the church here, who is not discouraged from Christ by 
any means. He is still the chief of ten thousand. When she was wronged 
for seeking after him, yet he was altogether lovely. Whereas, on the 
other hand, you have some that, for frowns of greatness, fear of loss, or 
for hope of rising, will warp theii* conscience, and do anything. Where 
now is love to Christ and to rehgion ? He that loves Christ, loves him 
the more for his cross, as the Holy Ghost hath recorded of some, that they 

Cant. V. 13.] ' he is altogether lovely.' 15U 

' rejoiced tbat they were thought worthy to suffer for Christ,' Acts v. 41. 
So the more we suffer for him, the more dear he will be to us. For indeed 
he doth present himself in love and comfort most, to those that suffer for his 
sake ; therefore their love is increased. 

3. Again, where love is, there it enlair/eth the heart, which being enlarged, 
enlargcth the tongue also. The church hath never enough of commending 
Christ, and of setting out his praise. The tongue is loosed, because the 
heart is loosed. Love wUl alter a man's disposition. As we see in experi- 
ence, a man base of nature, love will make him liberal ; he that is tongue- 
tied, it will make him eloquent. Let a man love Chi-ist, and though before 
he could not speak a word in the commendation of Christ, and for a good 
cause, yet, I say, if the love of Christ be in him, you shall have him speak 
and labour earnestly in the praises of God. This hot affection, this 
heavenly fire, will so mould and alter him, that he shall be clean another 
man. As we see in the church here, after that there was kindled a spirit 
of love in her, she cannot have done with Christ. When she had spoke 
what she could, she adds, ' He is altogether lovely.' Those that cannot 
speak of Christ, or for Christ, with large hearts in defence of good causes, 
but are tongue-tied and cold in their affections, where is their love ? Put 
any worldly man to a worldly theme that he is exercised in, and speaks of 
daily, he hath wit and words at will ; but put him to a theme of piety, you 
lose him : he is out of his theme, and out of his element. But 'tis not 
so with those that have ever felt the love of God in Christ. They have 
large affections. How full is Saint Paul ! He cannot speak of Christ, but 
he is in the height, breadth, length, and depth of the love of God in Christ, 
and the knowledge of God above all knowledge. Thus we may discern 
the truth of our love by the expressions of it here as in the church. 

4. Again, the church here is never content till she find Christ ; whatsoever 
she had, nothing contents her. She wanted her beloved. As we see here, 
she goes up and down inquisitive after him till she find him. So it is with 
a Clu'istian. If he have lost, by his own fault, his former communion with 
Christ, he will not rest nor be satisfied ; but searcheth here and there in 
the use of this and that means. He runs through all God's ordinances and 
means till he find Christ. Nothing in the world will content him, neither 
honour, riches, place, or friends, till he find that which be once enjoyed, 
but hath now for a season lost, the comfort and assurance of God's love in 

Now, if we can sit down with other things, and can want Christ and the 
assurance of salvation, that sweet report of the Spirit that we are his, and 
yet be contented well enough, here is an ill sign that a man is in an ill 
condition. The church Vt-as not so disposed here. She was never quiet, 
nor gives over her inquisition and speaking of Christ (that by speaking of 
the object she might warm her affections), until at the last she meets with 
Christ. These and the like signs there are of the truth of the love of 
Christ. But where there is a flaming love of Christ there is this degree 
further, a desire of the appearance of Christ, a desire of his presence. For 
if Christ be so lovely in his ordinances, if we find such sweetness in the 
word and sacraments, in the communion of saints, in the motions of the 
Spu'it, what is the sweetness, think you, which the souls in heaven enjoy, 
where they see Christ face to face, see him as he is ? Hereupon the spouse 
saith, ' Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.' Oh, that I might 
live in his presence. This is the desire of a Christian soul when the flame 
of love is kindled in any strength, ' Oh, that I might see him.' And there- 


fore it longs even for death ; for as far as a man is spiritual, he desires to 
be dissolved and to be with Christ ; as Simeon, when he saw him, though 
in his abasement, ' Now I have enough ; let thy servant depart in peace, 
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,' Luke ii. 30. The presence of 
Christ, though it were but in the womb, when Mary, the mother of Christ, 
came to Ehzabeth, it caused the babe that was in her womb to spring. 
Such comfort there is in the presence of Christ, though he be but in the 
womb, as it made John to spring. What, then, shall be his presence in 
heaven ? How would it make the heart spring there, think you ? For that 
which is most lovely in Christ is to come. Therefore the saints that have 
any degree of gi'ace in the New Testament, they are set out by this de- 
scription. They were such as loved the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
How can it be otherwise ? If they love Christ, they love the appearing of 
Christ, wherein we shall be made lovely, as he is lovely. 

Here we are not ' altogether lovely;' for we have many dregs of sin, 
many infirmities and stains. Shall we not, then, desire that time wherein, 
as he is ' altogether lovely,' so shall we be made a fit spouse for so glorious 
a husband ? 

To conclude this point, let us try our aflections by the church's affections 
in this place, whether Christ be so lovely to us or not. It is said, ' There 
is no beauty in him when we shall see him, and he was despised of men,' 
Isa. liii. 2. He was so, in regard of his cross and sufferings, to the eye of 
the world and of carnal men. Herod scorned him; when Pilate sent him 
to him, made nobody of him, as the word in the original is (q). They 
looked upon the outside of Christ in the flesh when he was abased. ' There 
was no form nor beauty in him,' saith the Holy Ghost, that is, to the sight 
of carnal men ; but those that had the sight of their sins with spiritual eyes, 
they could otherwise judge of Christ. The poor centurion saw an excel- 
lency in him when he said, ' He was not worthy that he should come under 
his roof,' Mat. viii. 8. The poor thief saw the excellency of Christ upon 
the cross in those torments. ' Lord, remember me when thou comest into 
thy kingdom,' Luke xxiii. 42. 

So those souls that were enlightened, that had the sight of their misery 
and the sight of God's love in Christ, had a high esteem of Christ in his 
greatest abasement. Therefore, if we have a mean esteem of the children 
of God as contemptible persons, and of the ordinances of God as mean 
things, and of the government of Christ (such as he hath left in his word) 
as base, it is an argument of a sinful, unworthy disposition. In such a 
soul Christ hath never been effectually by his Spirit ; for everything in him 
is lovely, even the bitterest thing of all. There is a majesty and excellency 
in all things of Christ. The censures of the church are excellent when 
they proceed and issue forth with judgment, as they should do, ' to deliver 
such a man over to Satan, that he may be saved in the day of the Lord,' 
1 Cor. V. 5. 

Now, if the ordinances of Christ, the word and sacraments, and the shutting 
sinners out of the church, if these things be vilified as powerless things, it 
shews a degenerate, wicked heart, not acquainted with the ways of God. 
If we have a mean esteem of men that suffer for Christ and stand out for 
him, if we account them so and so, shall we think ourselves Christians in 
the mean time ? When Christ is altogether lovely, shall they be unlovely 
that carry the image of Christ? Can we love him that begets, and hate 
them that are begotten of him ? Can we love Christ, and hate Christians ? 
It cannot be. 

Cant. V. IG.J ' this is my beloved.* 161 

Now, that we may get this affection and esteem of Christ that is so 

Let %is labour to make our sins bitter and loathsome, that Christ may he 

Quest. What is the reason wo set no higher a price of Christ ? 

Ans. Because we judge not of ourselves as we are indeed, and want 
spiritual eye-salve to see into ourselves rightly. 

2. And let ns attend upon the means of salvation, to hear the unsearchable 
riches of Christ. What makes any man lovely to us, but when we hear of 
their riches, beauty, and good intent to us? In the word we are made ac- 
quainted with the good intent of Christ towards us, the riches of mercy in 
forgivmg our sins, and riches of glory prepared for us. The more we hear 
of him, of his riches and love to us, the more it will inflame our love to 
Christ. Those that live where the ordinances of Christ are held forth with 
life and power, they have more heavenly and enlarged affections than others 
have, as the experience of Christians will testify. 

3. Again, if we would esteem highly of Christ that he may be lovely to 
us, let us join ivith company that highly esteem of Christ, and such as are better 
than ourselves. What deads the affections so much as carnal, worldly com- 
pany, who have nothing in them but civility ? By converse with them who 
have discourse of nothing but the world, if a man have heavenly affec- 
tions, he shall quickly dull them, and be in danger to lose them. They 
may be conversed with in ci\il things, but when we would set to be he'avenly 
and holy minded, lot us converse with those that are of an heavenly bent. 
As we see here, ' the daughters of Jerusalem ' are won to love Christ. By 
•what? By conversing with the church. Upon the discourse that the 
church makes of his excellencies, in particular, they begin to ask, Where is 
Christ, as in the next chapter ; and so are all brought to the love of Christ. 


His mouth is most sweet ; yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, ana 
this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem. — Cant. V. 16. 

Whither is thy beloved gone, thou fairest among ivomen? whither is thy be- 
loved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee ? My beloved is gone 
down, dc. — Cant. VI. 1, 2. 

By this time the church hath well quit herself in that safe subject, com- 
mending her beloved ; first in general, and then in particular. She affirms 
in effect, there was none like him in general ; which she after makes good, 
in all the particulars of her description. Now she sums up all with a kind 
of superabundant expression. What shall I say more of him ? if that 
which is said be not enough, then know farther, he is altogether lovely. 
There were no end to go through all his perfections ; but look on him 
wholly, ' he is altogether lovely,' and therefore deserves my love. So that 
there is no cause why you should wonder at the strength of my affections, 
and care to find out this my beloved and this my friend, ye daughters of 
Jerusalem. Thus we see how the pitch of an enlightened soul is bent. It 
aspires to things suitable to itself; to God-wards; to union and communion 
with Christ ; to supernatural objects. Nothing here below is worthy the 
name of its beloved. It fastens not on earthly, base things. But this is 

VOL. u. L 


my beloved, and this is my friend, this so excellent a person, this Jedidiah,* 
this beloved Son, this judge of all. Lord of all, this chief of ten thousand. 
Here the church pitches her affections, which she conceals, not as ashamed 
thereof, but in a kind of triumphing, boasting of her choice. She concludes 
all with a kind of resolute assurance, that the object of this her choice is far 
beyond all comparison. 

' This is my beloved, and this is my fi-iend, daughters of Jerusalem.' 

Which is the closing up of her commendations of Christ. ' This is my 
beloved, and this my friend,' &c. Which shall only be touched, because we 
had occasion to speak thereof before. She calls Christ her beloved. How- 
soever he had withdrawn himself in regard of the comfort and communion 
she had with him before, yet he is her beloved still. 

That which is specially to be stood upon is, that the church here 
doth set out not only in parcels, but in general, her beloved Christ. This 
is my beloved. She doth, as it were, boast in her beloved. Whence 
observe : 

A Christian soul seems to glory as it were in Christ. 

' This is my beloved, and this is my friend, ye daughters of Jerusalem.' 
But to unfold more fully this point, there be three en: four ends why the 
church thus stands upon the expression of the excellencies of Christ, in par- 
ticular and in general. 

1. The one, to shew that it is most just that she should love and respect 
him in whom there is all this to deserve love. Both in himself, in regard of 
his own excellencies, so, and in relation to us, in regard of his merits and 

2. Secondly, to justify he)- large affections before the world and all opposites.f 
For the world thinks, what mean these who are called Christians to haunt 
the exercises of rehgion, to spend so much time in good things ? They 
wonder at it for want of better information. Now the church here, to justify 
her large expressions, says, ' This is my beloved, this is my friend, ye 
daughters of Jerusalem.' 

3. And not only to justify, but likewise to glory therein, as you have it, 
Ps. xliv. 8. The church there boasts of God, ' I will make my boast of 
thee all the day long.' So that Christians may not onlyjustifytheii- course 
of Hfe against enemies, but in some sort boast of Christ, as Paul oft doth. 
And he shews the reason of it, that God hath made Christ to us all in all, 
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. i. 30, that who- 
soever glorieth might glory in the Lord, ver. 31 . For it is not a matter of 
glorying in the church when she hath such a head and such a husband. 
' This is my beloved.' The wife shines in the beams of her husband. 
Therefore this yields matter not only of justification but of glory. 

4. And next, in the fourth place, the church is thus large and shuts up 
all with a repetition, ' This is my beloved,' to enlarge her own affections and 
to feed our I own love. For love feeds upon this fuel, as it were; upon ex- 
pressions and meditations of the person or thing loved. Love is, as it were, 
wages of itself. The pains it takes is gain to itself. To the church here, 
it is an argument pleasing. She dilates upon a copious theme. I may 
truly say there is no greater comfort to a Christian, nor a readier way to 
enlarge the affections after Christ, than to speak oft of the excellencies of 
Christ ; to have his tongue as the pen of a ready writer furnished this way, 
* This is my beloved,' &c. 

* That is, ' beloved of Jehovah.'— G. t That is, ' opponents.'— Ed, 

X Qu. 'her?'- -Ed. 

Cant. V. 10.] 'tuis is my beloved.' 1G3 

5. In the fifth place, anotlicr end of this may be, to aggmvate her oicit 
shame, as indeed God's children are much in this argument ; that upon 
their second thoughts of Christ's worthiness, and therewithal reflecting upon 
their own unworthuaess and unkindness, they may relish Christ the better. 
Therefore the church here, that it might appear to herself, for her humilia- 
tion, how unkind she had been to shut the door against Christ when he 
knocked (wherei^on he deservedly did withdraw himself, and made her 
seek him so long sorrowing), I tell you, says she, what a kind of beloved he 
is, thus and thus excellent. How did the consideration of God's kindness 
and love melt David's heart after that horrible sin in the matter of Uriah, 2 
Sam. xii. 13 ; and the sweet looks of Christ upon Peter, Mat. xxvi. 75, that had 
been so imkind, melted him. So here the church, when she considered how 
unkind she had been to Chi-ist her beloved, so incomparably excellent above 
other beloveds, to let him stand at the door, till his locks were wet with the 
dew of the night, the consideration hereof made her ashamed of herself. 
What ! so excellent, so deserving a person as my beloved is to me, to be 
used of me so! what indignity is this ! Thus to raise up the aggravation 
of her unkindness, no question but the chui-ch takes this course. For 
God's children are not as untoward worldlings and hypocrites, afi'aid to 
search and to understand themselves. The child of God loves to be well 
read in his own heart and unworthy ways. Therefore he lays all the blame 
he can upon himself every way. He knows he loseth nothing by this ; 
for there is more mercy in Christ than there is sin in him. And the more 
sin abounds in his own feeling, the more grace shall abound. He knows 
the mystery of God's carriage in this kind. Therefore for this end, amongst 
the rest, she says, ' This is my beloved, and^this is my friend,' whom I have 
so unkindly used. 

6. And the last reason why the chm*ch is thus large was, to draw and 
ivind up the affections of those ucU-meaning Christians that were comers on, 
who ivere inquisitive of the ivag to Zion. ye daughters of Jerusalem, that 
you may know that there is some cause to seek after Christ more than you 
have done before, I tell you what an excellent person my beloved is ; to 
whet their affections more and more. And we see the success of this ex- 
cellent discom-se in the beginning of the next chapter. ' Whither is thy be- 
loved gone?' &c. 

These and the like reasons there are of the large expressions of the 
church, of the excellencies of Chiist. ' This is my beloved, and this is my 
friend, ye daughters of Jerusalem.' But we will single out of these 
reasons for use, that which I think fittest for us to make use of. 

Let us then oft think of the excellencies of Christ for this end, to justify 
our endeavours and pains ice take in the exercises of religion, and to justify God's 
people from the false imputations of the world, that they lay upon them ; as 
if they were negUgent in other matters, and were too much busied in spiritual 
things. You see how large the church is in setting out the excellencies of 
her beloved, and then she shuts up all (being able to say no more) justify- 
ing our cause, ' This is my beloved, and this is my friend.' Do you wonder 
that I seek so much after him then ? or wonder you at Christians, when 
they take such pains to keep their communion with Christ in a holy walking 
\vith, and depending upon God ? These are no wonders, if you consider 
how excellent Christ is, what he hath done for us, and what he keeps for us 
in another world ? that he will preserve us to his heavenly kingdom, till he put 
us into possession of that glorious condition that he hath purchased ? Let 
the hearts of men dwell upon the consideration of these thiugs, and then you 


shall see that God's children are rather to be blamed that they are no more 
careful, watchful, and industrious, than to be taxed that they are so much. 
Our Saviour Christ said, ' Wisdom is justified of all her children,' Mat. xi. 
19. If you will make good that you are children of wisdom, you must be 
able to justify the wisdom of God every way, to justify your reading, hear- 
ing, your communion of saints ; to justify all the exercises of religion fi'om 
an experimental taste and sweetness of them, as the church* doth here, ' This 
is my beloved,' What says Joshua ? ' This choice I have made ; do you what 
you will, it matters me not, but I and my house will serve the Lord,' Josh, 
xxiv. 15. So Paul makes a voluntary profession of his affection, Rom. i. 2, 
' I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.' Let the gospel be enter- 
tained in the world as it will, and let others think of me as they will, that 
I am forward in the preaching of it ; I am not ashamed of it. And good 
reason he had not to be ashamed ; for it is the power of God to salvation, 
to all that believe ; yea the saving power to us. And have not I cause to 
stand in the defence of it ? And so he saith, ' I know whom I have believed,' 
&c., 2 Tim. i, 12. I am not ashamed to suffer bonds for his sake. Though 
the world thought him a mean person, ' I will not be scorned out of my 
faith and religion by shallow, empty persons, that know not what Christ and 
rehgion meaneth.' No ; ' I know whom I have believed ; he is able to keep 
that that I have committed to him against that day.' Let us therefore be 
able to justify from a judicious apprehension, sweet di-sane truths. You sco 
what justifications there are of the church of God, ' Wherefore should the 
heathen say. Where is now their God ?' Micah vii. 10, andPs. xlii. 10. Oh, 
it went to David's heart, when they said, ' Where is now their God,' ' Whatwas 
become of his God,' when he was left in trouble, as the church here. And 
what doth he answer ? Doth he let it go with a question ? No, says he; our 
God is in heaven, Ps. cxiii. 4, and hath done whatsoever he pleased. 

And this justification of religion, you may know by this sign. It is with 
the desertion of all discourses opposite to religion whatsoever. He that 
justifies the truth, he esteems meanly of other courses and discourses. 
Therefore in the next verse the chm-ch vilifies the idols. Our God is in 
heaven, and doth whatsoever he pleaseth ; the idols are silver and gold, the 
work of men's hands : they have eyes and see not, ears and hear not, Ps. 
cxv. G. And the more we justify Christ, the more we will be against anti- 
christ and his religion. We may know the owning of the one truth by the 
vilifying the other. Let us labom* therefore to grow to such a convincing 
knowledge of Christ ; the good things in him ; and the ways of God, as we 
may be able to stand out against all opposition of the gates of hell whatso- 

And to this end proceed in the study of Christ, and to a deeper search 
of him, and of the excellencies and good things in him, that we may say as 
Micah vii. 18, ' Who is a God like to thee, that pardons sins and iniquities ?' 
and as David, Ps. cxiii., ' Who is a God like our God, that humbleth him- 
self to behold the things done here below ?' 

And desire also to this purpose, the spirit of revelation, that which Paul 
prays for, Eph. iii. 18, ' that we may know that knowledge that is above all 
knowledge, the height, depth, and breadth of God's love in Christ.' So 
sweet is God in the greatest abasements of his children, that he leaves such 
a taste in the soul of a Christian, that from thence he may be able to say, 
' This is my beloved,' when his beloved seems not to care for him. When 
the church seemed to be disrespected and neglected of Christ, yet she says, 
* This is my beloved, and this is my friend, ye daughters of Jerusalem.' 

Cant. YI. 1.] ' whitiiek is thy beloved cone ?' 165 

Shall rich men boast of their riches ? Shall men that are in favour, boast 
of the favour of great persons ? Shall a man that hath large possessions 
boast and think himself as good and as great as his estate is ? Shall a base- 
minded worldling be abh; to boast ? ' Why boastest thou thyself, mighty 
man?' Ps. lii. 1, Nay, you shall have malignant- spirited men boast of 
their malignant destructive power. I can do this and that mischief. Shall 
a man boast of mischief, that ho is able to do mischief? and hath not a 
Christian more cause to boast in God and in salvation ? Lord, shine on me, 
says David, Ps. iv. C, let me enjoy the light of thy countenance ; and that 
shall bring me more joy than they have, when their corn and wine in- 
creaseth. ICnow this, as ho goes on in the same psalm, that God accepts 
the righteous man. 

Therefore let us think we have much more cause to boast of God and of 
Christ in a spiritual manner, than the worldling hath of the world. Is not 
God and Christ our portion ? and having Christ, have we not all things 
with Christ ? Put case all things be took from us. If a man have Christ, 
he is rich though he have nothing else. K he have all without him, his 
plenty is (as a fother saith, and as it is in truth) beggary. But whosoever 
hath Christ may thus rejoice with David, ' The lot is fallen to me in plea- 
sant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage,' Ps. xvi. 6. Would we have 
more than God in Christ, a ring with a diamond very precious in it ? Now 
the daughters of Jerusalem, hearing this large expression of afiection, ask, 

' Whither is thy beloved gone, thou fairest among women ? whither is 
thy beloved turned aside ? that we may seek him with thee,' chap, vi, 1. 

Here is another question. The first which the daughters of Jerusalem 
ask is, ' What is thy beloved ?' whereupon the church took occasion to ex- 
press what her beloved was : upon her expression closing up all with this 
general, ' This is my beloved, and this is my friend.' 

Then the second question is, ' Whither is thy beloved gone ?' One ques- 
tion begets another ; and indeed if this question be well satisfied, what is 
Christ above others ? this will follow again. "^^Tiere is he ? How shall I 
get him ? How shall I seek him ? What is the reason this second ques- 
tion is seldom made ? Whither is he gone ? how shall I get Christ ? Be- 
cause the former question, namely, ' What is Christ ? is so seldom made. 
For if we did once Imow what Chi'ist is, we would be sure with the daughters 
of Jerusalem to ask whither is he gone, that we may seek him with thee. 

We see here is a growth in the desires of the daughters of Jerusalem, 
whence we learn, 

lliat grace, though it be in never so little proportion at the first, it is grow- 
ing still. 

From the first question, ' What is thy beloved?' here is a second, upon 
better information, ' Whither is thy beloved gone, that we may seek him 
with thee ? ' Nothing is less than gi-ace at the first, nothing in the world 
so little in proportion. The kingdom of heaven is compared to a grain of 
mustard seed. Mat. xiii. 31, seq. That is, the work of grace in the heart, as 
well as in the preaching of the gospel, in the beginning is little. It is true 
of the work of grace, as well as of the word of grace, that it is like a gi-ain 
of mustard seed at first. ' What is thy beloved ? ' inquires the church at 
first ; but when she hears of the excellency of Christ, then, ' Whither is thy 
beloved gone ? ' Grace begets grace. There is a connection and knitting 
together in rehgion. Good things beget good things. It is a strange thing 
in religion how great a matter ariseth of a Httle beginning. The woman of 
Samaria had but a small beginning of gi"ace, and yet she presently di-ew 


many of her neighbours to believe in Christ. So Andrew, John i. 41. As 
soon as he was converted, he finds his brother Simon, and tells him that 
he had found the Messiah, and so brings him to Christ. And Philip, as soon 
as he had got a spark of faith himself, he di-aws also Nathanael to come to 
Christ. Paul speaks of his bonds, how the noise of them was in Caesar's 
com-t, Philip, i. 13, and many believed the very report, which, howsoever 
it is not a working cause, yet it may be a preparing, inducing, leading 
cause to such things, from one thing to another, till there follow this change 
and full conversion. You see here the daughters of Jerusalem gi'owing. 
Therefore, let us labour to be under good means. Some of the Romists. 
and others, which are ill affected and gi'ounded in that point, they think 
that the efiicacy of grace is, as we call it, from the congruity, fitness, and 
proportion of the means to the heart and will of man. And thereupon God 
converts one and not another, because there is a congruous and fit ofiering 
of means to him when he is fitly disposed, and another is not fitly disposed. 
Therefore, there follows not upon it effectual calling. So that the \drtue 
of the means offered depends upon suitableness and fitness in the party to 
whom the means are oftered, and not upon the power and blessing of God. 
Verily, this is plausible, and goes down very roundly with many weak persons ; 
but this is a false and a gross error, for imless God by his Holy Spirit do 
work by the means, no planting and watering will bring any increase, and 
change the heart and mind. Though there were greater means in Christ's time 
when he wrought these miracles, than any time before, yet all those could 
not convert that froward generation; and it was Moses's complaint in the 
wilderness, where they had abundance of means, * God hath not given you 
a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear until this da}^,' Deut. 
xxix. 4. "When a man is planted under good means and frequents them, 
then ordinarily it pleaseth God, by the inward workings of his own power- 
ful Spirit, to work greater matters; and those that keep out of God's reach, 
that will not come into places where they may hear good things, there is no 
hope of them. Though there be many ill fish in the net, yet there is no 
hope to catch them that are without the net. So those that are kept out 
of all opportunities and occasions whereby God's Spirit may work upon 
them, there is no hope of them. 

Let us learn this heavenly wisdom, to advantage ourselves this way, by 
improving all good opportunities whatsoever whereby we may learn ; for 
God works by outward means. Good company and good discourse, these 
breed excellent thoughts. As, therefore, we love our souls, take all ad- 
vantages wherein the Spirit of God works. "We shall find incredible fi-uit 
thereof, more than we would believe. But to come to the question. 

1. See here, first of all, in this question the blessed success of the cJiurch's 
inquiry after Christ in the daughters of Jerusalem after they heard the large 
explications of the excellencies of Christ, especially by the church, whom 
they had a good conceit of, for they call her ' the fairest among women.' 

And seeing, likewise, the confidence of the chm-ch, she stands to it, 
* This is my beloved ; ' yea, also, eagerness in the church to seek after him, 
they would seek him with her. So that where these meet, a large unfold- 
ing of the truth of God, and that by persons that are known to be good, 
well accepted, and conceited of, and where there is a large demonstration 
of real afiection, and the things are spoken of with confidence, as knowing 
what they say ; the word, I say, so managed, it is never without wondrous 

(1.) For in the course of reason, what can I have to say, considering 

Cant. YI. l.J ' whither is thy beloved gone ?' 1G7 

the party who speaks is an excellent person ? He is wiser and holier than I ; 
ho takes to heart these things ; and shall not I affect that which those that 
have better parts and graces do ? 

(2.) Then, withal, I see not only excellent persons do it, but I see how 
earnest they are. Surely there is some matter in it; for persons so holy, 
so wise, and gracious to be so earnest, surely either they are to blame, or 
I am too dull and too dead ; but I have most cause to suspect myself. 

(3.) And to see them carried with a spirit of confidence, as if they were 
well enough advised when they deliver this, ' This is my beloved,' in particular, 
and then to shut up all in general, ' This is my beloved, and this is my friend ;' 

1 say, when there is grace and life in the heart, and earnestness with con- 
fidence, this, together with the explication of the heavenly excellencies of 
Christ and of religion, it hath admirable success. As here in the chui-ch, 
' the fairest among women,' the ' daughters of Jerusalem,' seeing the church 
was so earnest, confident, and so large in the explication of the excellencies 
of Chiist, see how it works. It draws out this question with resolution. 
They join with the church in seeking Christ, ' ^'Vhither is thy beloved gone, 
thou fairest among women ? whither is thy beloved turned aside ? that we 
may seek him with thee.' Where by the way observe, as the church 
before doubles it, ' This is my beloved, and this is my friend,' so they 
answer with a double question, ' Whither is thy beloved gone ? whither is 
he turned aside ? thou fairest among women,' &c. From this appellation 

2. If we would be happy instruments to convert others, being con- 
verted ourselves, labour to be such as the icorhl may think to be good and 
gracious. ' thou fairest among women,' fair in the robes of Christ took* 
out of his wardrobe. All the beauty and ornaments that the church hath 
Bhe hath from Clu'ist. Let us labom- to be such as the world may conceit 
are good persons. We say of physicians, when the patient hath a good 
conceit of them, the cure is half wi'ought. So the doctrine is half per- 
suaded when there is a good conceit of the speaker. 

3. Again, labour to be earnest. If we would kindle others, we must be 
warmed om-selves; if we would make others weep, we must weep ourselves. 
Natumhsts could observe this. The church spake this with large expres- 
sions, indeed, more than can be expressed. Let us labour to be deeply 
affected ^vith what we speak, and speak with confidence as if we knew what 
we spoke, as the apostle John doth, in the beginning of his epistle, to bring 
others to be better persuaded of his doctrine. He affirmeth ' that which 
was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with 
these our eyes, which we have looked upon, and these hands of oui's have 
handled of the word of life' he delivered to them, 1 John i. 1. 

For when we are confident from spiritual experience, it is wonderful how 
we shall be instniments of God to gain upon others. So Peter. * We fol- 
lowed not,' says he, ' deceivable fables, when we opened unto you the power 
and coming of our Lord Jesus Chi'ist, but with our eyes we saw his majesty,' 

2 Pet. i. 16. 

Do not think it belongs only to the ministr}'. There is an art of conver- 
sion that belongs to every one that is a grown Christian, to win others. 
' Wliither is thy beloved gone, thou fairest among women?' 
The next observation out of the words, because it is the especial, which 
■works upon the daughters of Jerusalem, is from the large explication of 

* That is, ' taken.'— G 


That which most of all stirs up holy affections to search after Christ is the 
large explications of his excellencies. 

Then be in love with the ministry of the gospel and the communion of 
saints, who have their tongues and their hearts taught of God to speak ex- 
cellently. Their tongues are as refined silver ; their hearts are enriched to 
increase the communion of saints, Prov. x. 20. Mark this one excellency 
of that excellent ordinance of God in Christ, whereof Paul saith, Eph. iii. 
7, 8, ' To me is committed this excellent office, to lay open the unsearchable 
riches of Christ ; ' such riches as may draw you to wonder, such ' as eye 
hath never seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man to 
conceive,' 1 Cor. ii. 9; and so to draw the affections of people after them. 

And because it is the special office of the ministry to lay Him open, to 
hold up the tapestry, to unfold the hidden mysteries of Christ, labour we, 
therefore, to be alway speaking somewhat about Christ, or tending that way. 
When we speak of the law, let it drive us to Christ ; when of moral duties, 
to teach us to walk worthy of Christ. Christ, or somewhat tending to 
Christ, should be our theme and mark to aim at. 

Therefore what shall we judge of those that are hinderers of this glorious 
ordinance of Christ in the gospel ? They are enemies of conversion and 
of the calling of God's people ; enemies of their comfort. And what shall 
we think of those wretched and miserable creatures that, like Cain, are 
vagabonds ? who wander, and will not submit themselves to any ordinance 
meekly, but keep themselves out of this blessed opportunity of hearing the 
excellencies of Christ, which might draw their hearts to him ? We are 
made for ever, if Christ and we be one. If we have all the world without 
him, it is nothing ; if we have nothing in the world but Christ, we are 
happy. Oh ! happy then when this match is made between Christ and 
the soul ! The friends of the bride and of Christ, they, laying open the 
unsearchable riches of Christ to the spouse, draw the afi"ections, work faith, 
and so bring the bride and the bridegroom together. 

Thus far of the question. Now we have the church's answer to the 
daughters of Jerusalem. 

' My beloved is gone into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in 
the gardens, and to gather lilies.' 

The question was not for a bare satisfaction, but from a desire the 
church had to seek Christ. * Wliither is thy beloved gone, that we may 
seek him ? ' It was not a curious question, but a question of inquisition 
tending to practice. Many are inquisitive ; but when they know another 
man's meaning, it is all they desire. Now I know your meaning, will they 
say, but I mean not to follow your counsel. The daughters of Jerusalem 
had a more sincere intention, ' thou fairest among women, whither is 
thy beloved turned aside? that u-e viatj seek him with thee.' \Vhereunto the 
church answered, 

* My beloved is gone into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the 
gardens.' Where we see. 

The church is not squeamish, but directly answers to the question. For 
there is no envy in spiritual things, because they may be divided in soUdiim. 
One may have as much as another, and all alike. Envy is not in those 
things that are not divisible ; in other things, the more one hath, another 
hath the less. But there is no envy in gi-ace and glory, because all may 
share alike. Therefore here is no envy in the answer, as if she denied 
the daughters of Jerusalem the enjoying of her beloved. No. If you will 
know, says she, I will tell you directly whither my beloved is gone. 

Cant. \I. 1, 2.] 'my beloved is gone into ins garden.' 169 

' My beloved is gone into his garden, to the bed of spices,' &c. 

God hath two gardens. The church catholic is his garden, and every 
particuhir church are gardens and beds of spices, in regai-d that many 
Christians are sown there that Christ's soul delights in, as in sweet spices. 
This was spoken of before at largo in chapter v. 1, why the church is 
called a garden, being a severed place from the waste.* The church ia 
severed from the wilderness of the world in God's care and love ; likewise 
he tends and weeds his church and giirdcn. As for the waste of the world, 
he is content the wilderness should have barren plants, but he will not 
endure such in his garden. Therefore those that give themselves liberty 
to be naught in the church of God, he will have a time to root them out. 
Trees that are not for fruit shall bo for tho fire ; and above all other trees 
their doom shall be the heaviest that grow in God's garden without fruit. 
That fig-tree shall be cursed, Luke xiii. 6—9. 

Men are pleased with answering the bill of accusation against them thus : 
Are we not baptized ? and do we not come to church ? &c. What do you 
make of us ? Yet they are abominable swearers, and filthy in their lives. 
To such I say, the more God hath lift you up and honoured you in the use 
of the means, the moi'e just shall your damnation be, that you bring forth 
nothing but briers and brambles, Heb. vi. 4, seq., the grapes of Sodom and 
the vine of Gomorrah, Deut. xxxii. 32. Heavy will the doom be of many 
that live in the church's bosom, to whom it had been better to have been 
born in America [>■), in Turkey, or in the most barbarous parts in the 
world. They have a heavy account to make that have been such ill profi- 
cients under abundance of means. Therefore it ought to be taken to heart. 

' My beloved is gone into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the 
gardens, and to gather lilies.' 

That is, having first planted them lilies here, to gather them, and to 
transport them out of the garden here to the garden in heaven, where 
there shall be nothing but lilies. For the church of God hath two 
gardens or paradises since the first paradise (whereof that was a resem- 
blance), the paradise of the church and the paradise of heaven. As Christ 
saith to the good thief, 'This day thou shalt be with me in paradise,'' 
Luke xxiii. 43 ; so those that are good plants in the paradise of the church, 
they shall be glorious plants also in the paradise of heaven. We must not 
alway be here ; we shall change our soil, and be taken into heaven. * He 
is gone into his garden to gather lilies.' 

1. Christians are compared to lilies for their j)untu and ichiteucss, un- 
spotted in justification ; and for their endeavours in sanctity and holiness, 
wherein also at length they shall be wholly unspotted. It is the end they 
are chosen to, ' to be holy without blame before him in love,' Eph. i. 4. 
God and Ctu'ist looks upon them without blame, not as they are here de- 
filed and spotted, but as they intend, by little and little, to purge and 
purify themselves by the Spirit that is in them, that they may be altogether 
without blame. They are lilies, being clothed with the white garment of 
Christ's righteousness, not having a natural whiteness and purity (s). The 
whiteness and purity of God's children is borrowed. All their beauty and 
garments are taken out of another's wardrobe. The church is all glorious 
within ; but she borrows her glory, as the moon borrows all her light 
from the sun. The church's excellency is borrowed. It is her own, but 
by gift ; but being once her o\\ti, it is her own for ever. 

The church before was likened to a garden culled out, an Eden, a para- 
* Seo pp. 8-10.— G. 


dise. Now there, you know, were four streams, sweet and goodly rivers, 
which watered paradise ; the heads of which rivers were without it. So the 
church of God, her graces are her own ; that is, the Spirit of God comes 
fhrough her nature, purgeth and purifieth it ; but the spring of those 
graces, as in paradise, is out of herself. 

2. And then the lily is a tall, goodly plant. Therefore the church is com- 
pared to them. Other men are compared to thorns, not only for a noxious, 
hurtful quality in them, but for their baseness likewise. What are thorns 
good for, but to cumber the ground, to eat out the heart of it, to hide 
snakes, and for the fire ? Wicked men are not lilies, but thorns. They 
are base, mean persons. Antiochus, Dan. xi. 21, is said to be a vile per- 
son, though he were a king, because he was a naughty* man. Wicked 
men, though they be never so great, being void of the grace of God, are 
vile persons. Though we must respect them in regard of their places, j^et 
as they are in their qualification, they are vile and base thorns. But the 
church is not so, but as a lily among thorns, that is, among vile and 
abominable persons. 

Use 1. The use is to comfort God's children. They have an excellency 
and glory in them, which, howsoever it is not from them, yet it is theirs by 
gift, and eternally theirs. Therefore let them comfort themselves against 
aU the censures of sinful persons that labour to trample them under foot, 
and think basely and meanly of them, as of the ofi'scouring of the world. 
Let the unworthy world think of them as they will, they are lilies in God's 
esteem, and are so indeed ; glorious persons that have the Spirit of glory 
resting upon them, 1 Pet. iv. 14, and whom the world is not worthy of, 
Heb. xi. 38, though their glory be within. Therefore let us glory in it, 
that God vouchsafeth saving grace to us above any other j)rivilege. 

Use 2. Again, it comforts us in all our wants whatsoever, that God will 
take care for lis. Christ useth this argument. God saith, he clotheth the 
lilies of the field with an excellent beauty ; he cares even for the meanest 
plants, and will he not take care for you, ye of little faith ? Mat. vi. 29. 
Doth he care for lilies, that are to-day, and to-morrow are cast into the 
oven ? and shall he not care for the lihes of paradise, the living lilies, 
those holy reasonable lilies ? Undoubtedly he will. Our Saviour Christ's 
reason is undeniable. He that puts such a beauty upon the poor plants, 
that flourish to-day in the morning, and wither before night ; he that puts 
such a beauty upon the grass of the field ; will he not put more excellency 
upon his children ? will he not provide for them, feed them ? Undoubtedly 
he will. Thus we have shewed why God's children in the church of God 
are compared to lilies. 

' To gather lilies.' Christ is said to gather these lilies, that is, he will 
gather them together. Christ will not have his lilies alone, scattered. 
Though he leaves them oft alone for a while, yet he will gather them to 
congregations and chui'ches. The name of a chui'ch in the original is 
Ecclesia (t). It is nothing but a company gathered out of the world. Do we 
think that we are lilies by nature ? No ; we are thorns and briers. God 
makes us lilies, and then gathers us to other lilies, that one may strengthen 
another. The Spirit of God in his children is not a spirit of separation of' 
Christians from Christians, but a spirit of separation from the waste, wild 
wilderness of the world, as we say of fire, Congreriat liomogenea et disgregat 
heterogenea. It congregates all homogeneal things, as gold, which it 
gathers, but disgregates heterogeneal things, consumeth dross. So the 
* That is, ' wicked." — G. 

C.-u^-T. YI. 3.] * I AM MY beloved's.' 17i 

Spirit of God severs thorns, and gathers lilies ; gathers Christians together 
in the church, and will gather them for ever in heaven. 

Thus we see the answer of the church to the daughters of Jerusalem, 
what it was, with the occasion thereof; the question of the daughters ot 
Jerusalem, ' Whither is thy heloved gone ? ' So that the church was be- 
holden to the daughters of Jerusalem for ministering such a question, to 
give her occasion to know better what her beloved was. Indeed, wc many 
times gain by weaker Christians. Good questions, though from weak ones, 
Tflinister suitable answers. It is a Greek proverb, that ' doubting begets 
plenty and abundance,' for doubting at the first begets resolution at last. 
O ! that we could take occasion hence to think of this. What excellent 
vu'tue is in the communion of saints, when they meet about heavenly exer- 
cises ! What a blessing follows when, though at the entry their afiections 
may be fiat and dull, yet they part not so ! Christ heats and inflames their 
hearts to do much good to one another. ! those that shall for ever 
live together in heaven, should they not dehght to live more together on 


T am my beloved's, and my heloved is mine ; he feedeth among the lilies. — 

Cant. VI. 3. 

1'hese words are a kind of triumphant acclamation upon all the former 
passages ; as it were, the foot of the song. For when the church had 
spoken formerly of her ill- dealing with Christ, and how he thereupon ab- 
sented himself from her, with many other passages, she shuts up all at last 
with this, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' 

Now she begins to feel some comfort fi-om Christ, who had estranged 
himself from her. ! saith she, notwithstanding all my sufferings, deser- 
tions, crosses, and the like, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine,' 
words expressing the wondrous comfort, joy, and contentment the chm'ch 
now had in Christ ; having her heart inflamed with love unto him, upon 
his manifesting of himself to her soul. ' I am my beloved's, and my 
beloved is mine : he feedeth among the lilies.' 

There is a mutual intercourse and vicissitude of claiming interest betwixt 
Christ and his church. I am Christ's, and Christ is mine. ' I am my 
beloved's, and m}' beloved is mine.' 

From the dependence and order of the words coming in after a desertion 
for a while, observe. 

That Christ icill not be long frovi his church. 

The spiritual desertions (forsakings, as we use to call them), howsoever 
they be very irksome to the church (that loves communion with Christ), 
and to a lo\ing soul to be deprived of the sense of her beloved, yet notwith- 
standing they are but short. Christ will not be long from his church. His 
love and her desire will not let him. They offer violence. Why art thou 
absent ? say they. AVhy art thou so fiir off, and hidcst thyself? Joseph 
may conceal himself for a space, but he will have much ado so to hold long, 
to be straitened to his brethren. Passion will break out. So Christ may 
seem hard to be entreated, and to cross his own sweet disposition, as to the 
woman of Canaan, but he will not long keep at this distance. He is soon 


overcome. * ! woman, great is thy faith ; have what thou wilt,' Mat. xv. 
28. When she strove with him a Httle (as ftflth is a striving grace), see 
how she did win upon him ! So the angel and Jacob may strive for a while, 
but Jacob at the length proves Israel; he prevails with God, Gen.xxxii. 24, 
seq. So it is with the Christian soul and Christ. Howsoever there be 
desertion, for causes before mentioned, because the church was negligent, 
as we hear, and partly for the time to come, that Christ, by his estrange- 
ment, might sweeten his coming again howsoever there may be strange- 
ness for a time, yet Christ will return again to his spouse. 

Use 1. The use should be not only for coynfort to stay us in such times, 
hut to teach us Ukeicise to icait, and never give over. If the church had given 
over here, she had not had such gracious manifestations of Christ to her. 
Learn hence, therefore, this use, to wait God's leisure. God will wait to 
do good to them that wait on him, Isa. xxx. 18. If we wait his leisure, 
he will wait an opportunity of doing good to us. "When God seems not to 
answer our prayers, let us yet wait. We shall not lose by our tarrying. 
He will wait to do us good. 

Use 2. In the next place, observe, after this temporary desertion, Christ 
visits Jiis church with more abundant comfort than ever before. 

Now, the church cannot hold, ' My beloved is mine, and I am his ;' and 
Christ cannot hold, but falls into a large commendation of his spouse back 
again. As she was large in his commendations, so he is large in hers, and 
more large. He will have the last word. Therefore, learn by this expe- 
rience, ' that all things work together for the best to them that love God,' 
Rom. viii. 23. All things. What? evil ? Ay, evil. Why, even sin turns 
to their humiliation ; yea, and desertion (those spiritual ills), turns to their 
good ; for Christ seems to forsake for a while, that he may come after with 
more abundance of comfort. When once he hath enlarged the soul before 
with a spacious desire of his coming, to say, ! that he would come ; 
when the soul is thus stretched with desire in the sense of want, then he 
fills it again till it burst forth, ' My beloved is mine, and I am his.' It was 
a good experiment of Bernard, an holy man in ill times, tibi accidit, &c., 
speaking of Christ's dealing with his church. He comes and he .goeth away 
for thy good. He comes for thy good to comfort thee ; after which, if 
thou be not careful to maintain communion with him, then he goeth away 
for thy good, to correct thy error, and to enlarge thy desire of him again, 
to teach thee to lay sure and faster hold. upon him when thou hast him, not 
to let him go again. 

If you would see a parallel place to this, look in Cant, iii., where there is 
the like case of the spouse and Christ, ' By night on my bed I sought him.' 
The church sought Christ not only by day, but by night, ' I sought him 
whom my soul loved.' Though she wanted him, j'et her soul loved him 
constantly. Though a Christian's soul have not present communion with 
Christ, yet he may truly say. My soul loves him, because he seeks him 
diligently and constantly in the use of all the means. So we see the 
church, before my text, calls him my beloved still, though she wanted 
communion with him. Well, she goes on, ' I sought him, but I found him 
not.' Would the church give over there ? No ; then she riseth and goeth 
about the city, and about the streets, and ' seeks him whom her soul loved,' 
seeks him, and will not give over. So I sought him, but I wanted the 
issue of my seeking, I found him not. What comes upon that ? ' The 
watchmen go about the city, and find her.' Of whom, when by her own 
seeking she could not find Christ, she inq^uires, ' Saw you him whom my 

Cant. YI. 3.j ' i am lyrx beloved's.' 173 

soul loveth ? ' She inquires of the watchmen, the guides of God's people, 
who could not satisfy her fully. She could not find her beloved, yet what 
doth she, she shews, verse 4. It was but a little that she stayed, after she 
had used all means, private and public — in her bed, out of her bed — by 
the watchmen and others, yet, saith she, it was but a little that I was 
past from them. She had not an answer presently, though the watchmen 
gave her some good counsel. It was not presently, yet not long after, 
Christ will exercise us a while with waiting : ' It was but a little that I 
passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loved.' After all our 
seeking, there must be waiting, and then we shall find him whom our soul 
loveth. Perhaps we have used all means, private and public, and yet find 
not that comfort we look for. Oh, but wait a while ! God hath a long 
time waited for thee. Be thou content to wait a while for him. We shall 
not lose by it, for it follows in the next verse ; after she had found him 
whom her soul loved, ' I held him, I would not let him go.' So this is the 
issue of desertions. They stir up diligence and searching, in the use of 
means, private and public ; and exercise patience to wait God's leisure, 
who will not suffer a gi-acious soul to fail of its expectation. At length he 
will fulfil the desii-es of them that fear him, Ps. cxlv. 19 ; and this comes 
of their patience. Grace grows greater and stronger. ' I held him, and 
would not let him go, until I had brought him unto my mother's house.' 
Thus you see how the Spirit cxpresseth the same truth in another state of 
the church. Compare place with place. To go on. 

' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' The words themselves 
are a passionate expression of long-looked-for consolation. Affections have 
eloquence of their own beyond words. Fear hath a proper expression. 
Love vents itself in broken words and sighs, delighting in a peculiar 
eloquence suitable to the height and pitch of the afiection, that no v/ords 
can reach unto. So that here is more in the words breathed from such an 
inflamed heart, than in ordinary construction can be picked out, ' I am my 
beloved's,' &c., coming from a full and large heax-t, expressing the union 
and communion between Christ and the church, especially after a desertion. 

* I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' 

First, I say, the union, viz., the union of persons, which is before all 
comfort and communion of graces, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is 
mine.' Christ's person is ours, and our persons are his. For, as it is in 
mai-riage, if the person of the husband be not the wife's, his goods are not 
hers, nor his titles of honour ; for these come all to her, because his per- 
son is hers : he having passed over the right of his own body and of his 
person to his wife, as she hath passed over all the right of herself to her 
husband. So it is in this mystical marriage. That that entitles us to 
communion of graces is union of persons between Christ and his church. 

♦ I am my beloved's, and my beloved himself is mine.' And indeed 
nothing else will content a Christian's heart. He would not care so much 
for heaven itself, if he had not Christ there. The sacrament, word, and 
comforts, why doth ho esteem them ? As they come from Christ, and as 
they lead to Christ. It is but an adulterous and base affection to love any- 
thing severed from Christ. 

Now, from this union of persons comes a communion of all other 
things whatsoever. 'I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' 
If Christ himself be mine, then all is mine (;/). What he hath done, what he 
hath suflcred, is mine; the benefit of all is mine. What he hath is mine. 
His prerogatives and privileges to be the Son of God, and heir of heaven, 


and the like, all is mine. Why "? Himself is mine. Union is the founda- 
tion of communion. So it is here with the church, ' I am my beloved's.' 
My person is his, my life is his, to glorify him, and to lay it down when 
he will. My goods are his, my reputation his. I am content to sacrifice 
all for him. I am his, all mine is his. So you see there is union and 
communion mutually, between Christ and his church. The original and 
spring hereof is Christ's uniting and communicating himself to his chm'ch 
first. The spring begins to* the stream. What hath the stream or cistern 
in it, but what is had from the spring ? First we love him, because he 
loved us first, 1 John iv. 19. It was a true speech of Augustine, Quicquid 
bonum, &c. : whatsoever is good in the world or lovely, it is either Grod or 
from Grod ; it is either Christ or from Christ. He begins it. It is said in 
nature, love descends. The father and the mother love the child before 
the child can love them. Love, indeed, is of a fiery natm'e. Only here is 
the dissimilitude, fire ascends, love descends. It is stronger, descending 
from the greater to the less, than ascending up from the meaner to the 
greater, and that for this amongst other reasons. 

Because the greater person looks upon the lesser as a piece of himself — sees 
himself in it. The father and mother see themselves in their child. So 
Grod loves us more than we can love him, because he sees his image in us. 
Neither is there only a priority of order. He loves us first, and then we 
love him. But also of causality. He is the cause of our love, not by way 
of motive only. He loves us, and therefore from an ingenuous spirit we 
must love him again. But he gives us his Spirit, circumciseth om- hearts 
to love him, Deut. xxx. G ; for all the motives or moral persuasions in the 
world, without the Spirit, cannot make us love, 1 Thess. iv. 9. We are 
taught of God to love one another, our brethren whom we see daily, saith 
Paul, much more need we to be taught to love him whom we never saw, 
so that his love kindles ours by way of reflection. 

In the new covenant God works both parts, his own and our parts too. 
Our love to him, our fear of him, our faith in him, he works all, even as he 
shews his own love to us. 

If God love us thus, what must we do ? Meditate upon his love. Let 
our hearts be warmed with the consideration of it. Let us bring them to 
that fire of his love, and then they will wax hot within us, and beg the 
Spirit, ' Lord, thou hast promised to give thy Spirit to them that ask it,' 
Luke xi. 10, and to circumcise our hearts to love thee, and to love one 
another, ' give thy Holy Spirit, as thou hast promised.' 

In a word, these words, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine,' 
to join them both together. 

1. They imply a mutual propriety, ^ Christ hath a propriety in me, and I 
in Christ. Peculiar propriety. Christ is mine, so as I have none in the 
world. So mine, ' whom have I in heaven but Christ ? ' and what is there 
in earth in comparison of him ? He is mine, and mine in a peculiar man- 
ner, and I am his in a peculiar manner. There is propriety with pecu- 

2. Then, again, these words, ' I am his,' implies mutual love. All is 
mutual in them, mutual propriety, mutual peculiarity, and mutual love. I 
love Chi-ist so as I love nothing else. There is nothing above him in my 
heart, as Christ loves me more than anything else, saith the church, and 
every Christian. He loves all, and gives outward benefits to all, but to me 

* That is, ' originates, or gives its beginning to.' — Ed. 
t That is, ' property.'— G. 

Cant. VI. 3.] ' i am my beloved's.' 175 

he hath given himself, so love I him. As the husband loves all in the 
family, his cattle and his servants, but he gives himself to his spouse. So 
Chi'ist is mine, himself is mine, and myself am Christ's. He hath my soul, 
my affections, my body, and all. He hath a propriety in me, and a pecu- 
liarity in me. He hath mj' affection and love to the uttermost, as I have 
his, for there is an intercourse in these words. 

3. Then, again, they im])\y mutual familiarittj. Christ is familiar to my 
soul, and I to Christ. He discovers himself to me in the secret of his love, 
and I discover myself to him in prayer and meditation, opening my soul to 
him upon all occasions. God's children have a spirit of prayer, which is 
a spirit of fellowship, and talks, as it were, to God in Christ. It is the 
language of a new-born Christian. He cries to his Father. There is a 
kind of familiarity between him and his God in Christ, who gives the en- 
trance and access to God. So that where there is not a kind of familiarity 
in prayer and opening of the soul to Christ upon all occasions, there is not 
this holy communion. Those that are not given to prayer, they cannot in 
truth speak these words, as the church doth here, ' I am my beloved's, and 
my beloved is mine,' for they imply sweet familiarity. 

4. Then, again, they imply mutual likeness one to another. He is 
mine, and I am his. The one is a glass to the other. Christ sees himself 
in me, I see myself in him. For this is the issue of spiritual love, espe- 
cially, that it breeds likeness and resemblance of the party loved in the 
soul that loveth ; for love frameth the soul to the likeness of the party 
loved. I am his, I resemble him. I am his, I have given myself to him. 
I carr}' his picture and resemblance in my soul, for they are words of mu- 
tual conformity. Christ, out of love, became like me in all things, wherein 
I am not like the devil, that is, sin excepted. If he became like me, taking 
my nature that I might be near him in the fellowship of grace, ' My be- 
loved is mine,' I will be as like him as possibly I can, I am his. Every 
Christian carries a character of Christ's disposition as far as weakness will 
suffer. You may know Christ in every Christian ; for as the king's coin 
carries the stamp of the king (Ca3sar's coin bears Caesar's superscription), 
so every Christian soul is God's coin, and he sets his own stamp upon it. 
If we be Christ's, there is a mutual confonnity betwixt him and us. 

Now, where you see a malicious, unclean, worldly spirit, know that is 
a stamp of the devil, none of Christ's. He that hath not the Spirit of God 
is none of his. Now, where the Spiiut of Christ is, it stamps Christ's like- 
ness upon the soul. Therefore we are exhorted, Phil. ii. 5, to be like- 
minded to Christ. 

5. Again, these words, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine,' 
imply a mutual care that Christ and the soul have of the good of one another, 
of each other's honour and reputation. As Christ hath a care of our good, 
so a Christian soul, if it can say with truth and sincerity I am Christ's, it 
must needs have care of Christ's good, of his children, religion, and truth. 
What ! will such a soul say. Shall Christ care for my body, soul, and salva- 
tion, and stoop to come fi-om heaven to save me, and shall I have no care for 
him and his glory ? He hath left his truth and his church behind him, and 
shall not I defend his truth, and stand for the poor church to the utmost 
of my power against all contraiy power ? Shall not I stand for religion ? 
Shall it be all one to me what opinions are held ? Shall I pretend he cares 
for me, and shall I not care for that I should care for ? Is it not an hon- 
our to me that he hath trusted me to care for anything ? that he will be 
honom'ed by my care ? Beloved, it is an honour fur us that we may speak 


a good word for religion, for Christ's cause, for his church, against ma- 
hgners and opposers ; and we shall know one day that Christ will be a 
rewarder of every good word. Where this is said in sincerity, that Christ 
is mine, and I am Christ's, there will be this mutual care. 

6. Likewise there is implied a mutual complacency in these words. By 
a complacency I mean a resting, contenting love. Christ hath a com- 
placency and resting in the church ; and the church hath a sweet resting 
contentment in Christ. Christ in us and we in him. A true Christian 
soul that hath yielded up its consent to Christ, when it is beaten in the 
world, vexed and turmoiled, it can rely on this, ' I have yet a loving 
husband ; ' yet I have Christ. 

Let this put us upon a search into ourselves, what we retire to, when we 
meet with afflictions. Those that have brutish and beastly souls retire to 
carnal contentments, to good fellowship ; forget, besot, and fly away from 
themselves ; their own consciences and thought of their own trouble 
Whereas a soul that hath any acquaintance with God in Christ, or any in- 
terest into Christ, so that it may say, that Christ is mine, and I am Christ's, 
there will be contentment and rest in such a soul, whatsoever it meets with 
in the world. 

7. The last thing implied is courage, a branch of the former. Say all 
against it what they can, saith the resolved soul, I will be Christ's. Here 
is courage with resolution. Agreeable hereto is that, ' One shall say I 
am the Lord's, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob ; an- 
other shall subscribe and surname himself by the name of Israel,' Isa. xliv. 5. 
Where there is not this resolution in good causes, there is not the Spirit of 
Christ ; there is no interest into Christ, It is but a delusion and self- 
flattery to say I am Christ's, when there is not resolution to stand to Christ. 
These words are the expression of a resolved heart, I am, and I will be 
Christ's ; I am not ashamed of my bargain ; of the consent I have givei^ 
him; I am and I will be his. You have the like in Micah iv. 5, ' All people will 
walk every one in the name of his god, they will resolve on that, and wo 
will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and for ever.' So 
that where these words are spoken in truth, that ' I am Christ's,' there is 
necessarily implied, I will own him and his cause for ever and ever. 

He hath married me for ever and ever ; therefore, if I hope to havo 
interest in him for comfort for ever and ever, I must be sure to yield my- 
self to him for ever and ever ; and stand for his cause, in all oppositions, 
against all enemies whatsoever. These and such like places in Scripture 
run parallel with this in the text, * I am my beloved's, and my beloved is 
mine,' not only holdmg in the person, but in the cause of Chiist. Every 
man hopes his god will stand for him against the devil, who accuseth us 
daily. If we will have Christ to stand for us, and to be an advocate to 
plead our cause as he doth in heaven, we must resolve to stand for him 
against all enemies, heretics, schismatics, persecutors whatsoever ; that we 
will walk in the name of our God for ever and ever. 

Quest. But when the case is not thus with us, and that neither we can 
feel comfort from Christ, jior have this assurance of his love to us, what 
should we judge of such ? 

Solution. We should not wonder to see poor souls distempered when 
they are in spiritual desertions, considering how the spouse cannot endure 
Ahe absence of Christ. It is out of love therefore in the deepest plunge 
ihe hath this in her mouth, ' my beloved.' Therefore let us not judge 
amiss of om-selves or others, when we are impatient in this kind. 

Cant. VI. 3.] * i am my beloved's.' 177 

But for a more full answer, in want of feeling of the love of Christ in 
regard of that measure we would (for there is never altogether a want of 
feeling, there is so much as keeps from despair alway, yet), if we carry a 
constant love towards him, mourn to him and seek after him as the church 
here ; if the desire of our souls be after him, that we make after him in 
the use of means, and are willing to speak of him as the church here, feel 
or feel not, we are his, and he will at length discover himself to us. 

Let such drooping spirits consider, that as he will not be long from us, 
nor wholly, so it shall not be for our disadvantage that he retires at all. 
His absence at length will end in a sweet discovery of himself more abun- 
dantly than before. He absents himself for our good, to make us more 
humble and watchful for the time to come ; more pitiful to others ; more to 
prize our former condition ; to justify the ways of God more strictly ; to 
walk with him ; to regain that sweet communion which by our negligence 
and security we lost. When we are thus prepared by his absence, there 
ensues a more satisfying discovery of himself than ever before. 

But when is the time that he comes ? Compare this with the former chapter. 
He comes after long waiting for him. The church waited for him, and 
waited in the use of all means. She runs to the watchmen, and then in- 
quires after him of the daughters of Jerusalem. After this she finds him. 
After we have waited and expected Christ in the use of means, Christ at 
length will discover himself to us ; and yet more immediately, it was after 
the church had so deservedly exalted him in such lofty praises, ' This is my 
beloved, the chief of ten thousand ; he is altogether lovely.' When we set 
our hearts to the high exaltation of Christ above all things in the world, 
proclaiming him ' the chief of ten thousand,' this at the last breeds a gracious 
discoveiy, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine,' for Christ when 
he sees us faithful, and so loving that we will not endure his absence, and 
so constantly loving, that we love him notwithstanding some discouragements, 
it melts him at the last, as Joseph was melted by his brethren. 

' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' 

In the words, you see a mutual interest and o\\'ning between Christ and 
the church. Howsoever in the order of words, the church saith, ' I am my 
beloved's ' first, yet in order of nature Christ is ours first, though not in 
order of discovery. There is one order of knowing, and another order of 
causing. Many things are kno\vn by the effect, but they issue from a cause. 
I know he is mine, because I am his. I have given myself to him. I 
know it is day, because the sun is up. There is a proof from the effect. 
So I know a man is alive, because he walks. There is a proof of the 
cause by the effect. ' I am his ; ' I have grace to give myself up to him. 
Therefore I know he loves me. He is mine. Thus I say in order of 
discovery ; but in order of nature, he is first mine, and then I am his. 
' My beloved is mine, and I am my beloved's.' 

The union and communion betwixt us and Christ hath been already 
spoken of. 

Now to speak of the branches, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is 
mine.' That Christ is first ours ; and then we are his, because he is ours ; 
and the wondrous comfort that issues hence — that Christ himself is ours. 

How comes Christ to be ours ? (1.) Christ is ours by his Father's gift. 
God hath given him for us. (2.) Christ is ours by his own gift. He hath 
given himself for us. (3.) And Christ is ours by his Spirit that witncsseth 
so much to our spirits. For the Spirit is given for this purpose, to shew 
us all things that are given us of God, whereof Christ is -the chief. There- 
vox., u. M 


fore the Spirit of Christ tells us that Christ is ours ; and Christ being ours, 
all that he hath is ours. 

If he be ours, if we have the field, we have all the treasures in the field. 
If we have him, v^^e have all his. He was born for us ; his birth was for 
us ; he became man for us ; he was given to death for us. And so like- 
wise, he is ours in his other estate of exaltation. His rising is for our 
good. He will cause us to rise also, and ascend with him, and sit in 
heavenly places, judging the world and the angels. We recover in this 
second, what we lost in the first, Adam. 

Use 1. This is a point of wondrous comfort to shew the riches of a Chris- 
tian, his high estate, that Christ is his. 

And Christ being ours, God the Father and the Holy Spirit and all things 
else in the world, the rich promises, are ours ; for in Christ they are all 
made, and for him they shall be performed. For, indeed, he is the chief 
promise of all himself, and all are ' yea and amen in him,' 2 Cor. i. 20. 
Oan we want rigliteousness, while we have Christ's righteousness ? Is not 
his garment large enough for himself and us, too ? Is not his obedience 
enough for us ? Shall Ave need to patch it up with "Dtir own righteousness ? 
He is ours, therefore his obedience is ours. 

Use 2. And this should be a ground likewise of contentation'^ in our condi- 
tion and state ivhatsoever, — Christ himself is ours. In the dividing of all things, 
some men have wealth, honours, friends, and greatness, but not Christ, nor 
the love of God in Christ, and therefore they have nothing in mercy. But 
a Christian, he hath Christ himself. Christ is his by faith and by the 
Spirit's witness. Therefore, what if he want those appendencies,f the lesser 
things ? He hath the main ; v/hat if he want a riveret, a stream ? He 
hath the spring, the ocean ; him, in whom all things are, and shall he not 
be content ? Put case a man be very covetous, yet God might satisfy him. 
What ! should anxious thoughts disquiet us, when we have such bills, such 
obligations from him who is faithfulness itself ? When a Christian cannot 
say, honour, favour, or gi-eat persons are his, yet he can say, he hath that 
that is worth all, more than all ; Christ is his. 

Ohj. Oh ! may some say, this is but a speculation, — Christ is yours. A 
man may want and be in misery for all that. 

Ans. No ; it is a reality. Christ is ours, and all things else are ours. 
He that can command all things is mine. Why then, do I want other 
things ? Because he sees they are not for my good. If they were, he 
would not withhold them from me. If there were none to be had without 
a miracle, no comfort, no friends, he could and would make new out of 
nothing, nay, out of contraries, were it not better for me to be without 

Use 3. That you may the more fully feed on this comfort, study the excel- 
lencies of Christ in the Scripture, the riches and honour that he hath, the 
favour he is in with his Father, with the intercession that he makes in 
heaven, John xvii. Study his mercy, goodness, offices, power, &c., and 
then come home to yom'selves, ' All this is mine, for he is mine ; the love 
of God is mine.' God loves him, and therefore he loves me, because we 
are both one. He loves me with the same love that he loves his Son. 
Thus we should make use of this, that Christ is ours. I come to the 

■ I am my beloved's.' 

This is a speech of reflection, second in nature, though first in place and 
* That is, ' contentment.' — G. f That is, ' additions.' — G. 

Cant. VI. 3.] * i am my beloved's.' 179 

in discovery to us. Sometimes we can know our own love, when wo feel 
not so much the love of Christ, but Christ's love must bo there fii-st. ' I 
am my beloved's,' 1 John iv. 19. 

How are we Christ's beloved ? 

1. We are his, first of all, by his Father's gift; for God in his eternal 
purpose gave him for us, and gives us to him, as it is in the excellent 
prayer, 'Father, thine they wei-e, and thou gavest them me,' Johnxvii. 6. I 
had not them of myself first, but thine they were before all worlds were. 
Thou gavest them me to redeem them, and my commission doth not extend 
beyond thy gift. I die for all those that thou gavest me. I sanctify 
myself for them, that they may be sanctified. So we are Christ's in his 
Father's gift. But that is not all, though it be the chief, fundamental, 
principal ground of all. 

For, 2. We are his likewise by redemption. Christ took our nature, that 
he might die for us, to purchase us. We cost him dear. We are a bloody 
spouse to Christ. As that froward woman ^TongfuUy said to Moses, ' Thou 
art a bloody husband unto me,' Exod. iv. 25, so Cbiist may without wrong 
say to the chm-ch, ' Thou art a spouse of blood to me.' We were, indeed^ 
to be his spouse, but first he must win us by conquest in regard of Satan, 
and then satisfy justice. We were in such debt by sin, lying under God's 
wrath, so as, till all debts were paid, we could not in the way of justice bo 
given as a spouse to Christ. 

3. Nor is this all ; but we are Christ's by matriage also. For when he 
purchased us, and paid so dear for us, when he died and satisfied divino 
justice, he did it with a purpose to marry us to himself. We have nothing 
to bring him but debt and misery ; yet he took upon him our nature to 
discharge all, that he might marry us, and take us to himself. So we are 
his by mari-iage. 

4. Then again, we are his by consent. We have passed ourselves over 
unto him. He hath given himself to us, and we have given ourselves to 
him back again. To come to some use of it, if we be Christ's, as Chi-ist 
is ours. 

Use 1. First, it is a point oi ivondrous comfort. God will not sufler his 
own to want. He is worse than an infidel that will sufi'er his family to 
perish. "When we are once of Chi'ist's family, and not only of his family, 
but of his body, his spouse, can we think he will sufi'er us to want that 
which is needful ? 

2. Then again, as it comforts us against want, so it likewise fenceth us 
against all the accusations of Satan. I am Christ's ; I am Christ's. If ho 
have anything to say, lo ! we may bid him go to Christ. If the creditor 
comes to the wife, she is not liable to pay her own debts, but saith, Go to 
my husband. So in all temptations, learn hence to send Satan whither he 
should be sent. When we cannot answer him, send him to Christ. 

3. And for the time to come, what a gi'ound of comfort is this, that we 
are Christ's, as well as he is ours. What a plea doth this put into our 
mouths for all things that are beneficial to us. ' Lord, I am thine ; savo 
me,' saith the psalmist. Why? ' Save me, because I am thine, I am 
thine ; Lord, teach me and direct me,' Ps. xxvii. 11. The husband is to 
direct the spouse. The head should dii-ect all the senses. All the trea- 
sures of wisdom are in Christ, as all the senses are in the head for the good 
of the body. Ail fulness dwells in him. Therefore, plead with him, I 
want wisdom ; teach me and instruct me how to behave myself in troubles, 
in dangers, in fears. If it be an argument strong enough amongst men, 


weak men, I am thine, I am thy child, I am thy spouse, &c, shall we 
attribute more pity and mercy to ourselves than to the God of mercy and 
comfort, who planted these affections in the creature ? Shall he make men 
tender and careful over others, and shall not he himself be careful of his 
own flock ? Do we think that he will neglect his jewels, his spouse, his 
diadem, and crown ? Isa. Ixii. 3. He will not. 

But you will urge experience. We see how the church is used, even as a 
forlorn widow, as if she had no husband in the world, as an orphan that 
had no father. Therefore, how doth this stand good ? 

Alls. 1. The answer is, all that the church or any particular Christian 
suffers in this world, it is but that there may be a conformity between the 
spouse and the hitshand. The Head wore a crown of thorns, and went to 
heaven and happiness through a great deal of misery and abasement in the 
world, the lowest that ever was. And it is not meet that the church should 
go to heaven another way. 

Ans. 2. Then again, all this is but to fashion the spouse to belike to Christ, 
but to bring the church and Christ nearer together. That is all the hurt 
they do, to drive the church nearer to Christ than before. Christ is as 
near to his church as ever in the greatest afflictions, by his Spirit. Christ 
cries out on the cross, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me V 
It is a strange voice, that God should be his God, and yet, notwithstanding, 
seem to forsake him. But God was never more his God than at that pre- 
sent. Indeed, he was not his God in regard of some feelings that he had 
enjoyed in former times. He seemed to be forsaken in regard of some 
sense, as Christ seems to forsake the church in regard of some sense and 
feeling, but yet his God still. So the church may say, I am thine still. 
Though she seem to be forsaken in regard of some feelings, yet she is not 
deserted in regard of God's care for support of the inward man and fashion- 
ing to Christ. The church hath never sweeter communion with Christ 
than under the greatest crosses ; and, therefore, they many times have 
proved the ground of the greatest comforts. For Christ leads the church 
into the wilderness, and then speaks to her heart, Hos. ii. 14. Christ 
speaks to the heart of his spouse in the wilderness, that is, in a place of no 
comfort. There are no orchards or pleasures, but all discomforts there. 
A man must have it from heaven, if he have any good in the wilderness. 
In that wilderness, that is, in a desolate, disconsolate estate, Christ speaks 
to the heart of his children. There is in the wilderness oftentimes a sweet 
intercourse of love, incomparably beyond the time of prosperity. 

Ans. 3 Again, to stay your hearts, knoiv this ivill not be long ; as we see here, 
the church seemed to be forsaken and neglected, fell into the hands of cruel 
watchmen, and was fain to go through this and that means, but it was not 
long ere she met with him whom she sought after. It may be midnight at 
this time, but the night continues not long ; it will be morning ere long. 
Tbei'efore the church may well say, ' Rejoice not against me, mine 
enemy ; for though I be fallen, I shall rise again; though I sit in darkness, 
the Lord will be a light unto me,' as it is Mic. vii. 8. It shall not be 
always ill with the church. Those that survive us shall see other manner 
of days than we see yet, whatsoever we shall ourselves. 

4. Hence we have also an use of trial. Whosoever are Christ's, they 
have hearts to give themselves to him. As he gives himself, not his goods 
or his honours, but himself for his church, so the church gives herself to 
Christ. My delight is in him ; he hath myself, my heart, my love and 
affection, my joy and delight, and all with myself. If I have any honour. 

Cant. VI. 3. J ' i am my beloved's.' 181 

he shall have it. I will use it for his glory. My riches I will give them 
to him and his church and ministry and children, as occasion shall serve. 
I am his, therefore all that I have is his, if he ask it at my hands. It is 
said of the Macedonians, they gave themselves to Christ, and then their 
riches and goods, 2 Cor. viii. 5. It is an easy matter to give our riches to 
Christ when we have given ourselves first. A Christian, as soon as ever 
he becomes a Christian, and ever after, to death, and in death too, he gives 
up himself to Christ. They that stand with Christ, and will give this or 
that particular, will part only with idle things that they may spare, are they 
Christ's ? No. A Christian gives himself and all his to Christ. So we 
see here what we should do if Christ be ours. Let us give up ourselves to 
him, as it is Kom. xii. 1. The issue of all that learned profound discourse in 
the former part of the epistle, that Christ justifieth us by his righteousness 
and merit, and sanctifies us by his Spirit, and hath predestinated and elected 
us, and refused others, is this, ' I beseech you, give up your bodies and 
souls, and all as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. 

In brief, these words imply renunciation and resignation. ' I am his,' 
that is, I have given up myself to him, therefore I renounce all others that 
stand not with his love and liking. I am not only his by way of service, 
which I owe him above all that call for it, but I am his by way of resigna- 
tion. If he will have me die, I will die. If he will have me hve here, I 
will. I have not myself to dispose of any longer. I have altogether alien- 
ated myself from myself. I am his to serve him, his to be disposed of by 
him. I have renounced all other. 

Therefore here we have another answer to Satan, if he come to us and 
sohcit us to sin. Let the Christian's heart make this answer, I am not mine 
oivn. What hath Satan and his instruments to do with me ? Is my body 
his to defile ? Is my tongue his to swear at his pleasure ? Shall I make 
the temple of God the member of an harlot ? As the apostle reasons, 
' Shall I defile my vessel with sin ?' 1 Cor. vi. 15. What saith converted 
Ephraim ? ' What have I any more to do with idols ? for I have seen and ob- 
served him?' Hos. xiv. 8. We ought to have such resolutions ready in our 
hearts. Indeed, when a Christian is resolute, the world counts such to bo 
lost. He is gone. We have lost him, say your dissolute, profane persons. 
It is true they have lost him indeed, for he is not his o\ra, much less theirs, 
any longer. But he is found to God and himself and the church. Thus 
we see what springs from this, that Christ is ours, and that we are Christ's 
back again. Let us carry this with us even to death ; and if times should 
come that God should honour us by serving himself of us in our lives, if 
Christ will have us spend our blood, consider this, I am not mine own in 
life nor death, and it is my happiness that I am not my own. For if I 
were mine own, what should I do with myself? I should lose myself, as 
Adam did. It is therefore my happiness that I am not mine own, that I 
am not the world's, that I am'^not the devil's, that none else hath to do with 
me, to claim any interest in me, but I am Christ's. If I do anything for 
others, it is for Christ's sake. Remember this for the time to come. If 
there be anything that we will not part with for Christ's sake, it will be our 
bane. We shall lose Christ and it too. If we will not say with a perfect 
spirit, I am his, my life, my credit, my person is his, anything his ;_ look 
what we will not give for him, at length we shall lose and part with it and 
him too. 



I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine ; he feedeth among the lilies, — 

Cant. VI. 3. 

The church, you see here, though she stood out a while against all Christ's 
invitation and knocking, yet at length she is brought to yield herself up 
wholly unto Christ, and to renounce herself, which course God takes with 
most, yea, in a manner with all his people, ere they go out of this world, 
to lay all high things low, beat down every high thought and imagination 
which exalteth itself against him, 2 Cor. x. 5, that they may give them- 
selves and all they have to Christ, Luke xiv. 26, if he call for it. For he 
that doth not so is not worthy of Christ. K we do not this, at least in 
preparation of mind, let us not own the name of Christians, lest we own 
that which shall further increase and aggravate our condemnation, profess- 
ing reUgion one way, and yet alienating our miads to our lusts and plea- 
sures of the world another way. To have peculiar love-fits of oui* own, 
distinct from Christ, how stands this with * I am my beloved's, and my 
beloved is mine ' ? How stands it with the self- resignation that was spoken 
of before ? 

Now this follows upon apprehension of Christ being ours. * I am my 
beloved's, because my beloved is mine first.' There are four reasons why 
Christ must be given to us before we can give ourselves to him by this self- 

1. Because he is the chief spring of all good affections, which he must 
place in us ; loving us, ere we can love him, 1 John iv. 10, 19. 

2. Because love descends. Though it be of a fiery nature, yet in this it 
is contrary, for love descends, whereas fire ascends. The superior, first 
loves the inferior. Christ must descend in his love to us, ere we can 
ascend to him in our afiections. 

3. Because our nature is such that ice cannot love but where we know our- 
selves to be lovedfirst. Therefore God is indulgent to us herein ; and that we 
may love him, he manifests his love first to us. 

4. Because naturally ourselves, being conscious of guilt, are full of fears from 
thence. So that if the soul be not persuaded first of Christ's love, it runs 
away from him, as Adam did from God, and as Peter firom Christ, * Depart 
from me, for I am but a sinful man,' Luke v. 8. So the soul of every man 
would say, if first it were not persuaded of God's love in Christ, ' Who amongst 
us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings ? ' Isa. xxxiii. 14. Therefore 
to prevent that disposition of soul which would rise out of the sense of guilt 
and unworthiness, God first speaks to us in Christ ; at length saying unto 
our souls, ' I am thy salvation,' whereupon the soul first finding his love, 
loves him back again, of whom it finds itself so much beloved ; so that our 
love is but a reflection of his, ' I am my beloved's, because my beloved is 

It is with the Spirit of God as with the spirits in the soul and body of a 
man, there is a marriage betwixt the body and soul. The spirits join both 
together, being of a middle nature ; for they have somewhat spiritual near 
the soul, and somewhat bodily near the body. Therefore they come be- 
tween the body and the soul, and are the instruments thereof, whereby it 
works. So it is with the Spirit of God. The same Spirit that tells the 

CaKT. VI. 3.] * MY BELOVED IS MINE.* 188? 

Boiil that Christ is ours, the same Spirit makes up the match on our part, 
and gives us up to Christ again. 

Let this then be the trial that we are Christ's, by the spiritual echo that 
our souls make to that report which Christ makes to our souls, whether 
in promises or in instructions. 

Use 1. See hence likewise the nature of faith, for these are the words of 
faith as well as of love. Faith hath two branches, it doth give as well as 
take. Faith receives Christ, and says, Christ is mine ; and the same faith 
saith, I am Christ's again. Indeed, our souls are empty ; so that the 
main work of faith is to be an empty hand, mendica manus (as Luther calls 
it) ; a beggar's hand to receive. But when it hath received it gives Lack 
again, both ourselves and all that we can do. The churches of Macedonia 
* gave themselves,' and then ' they gave their goods,' 2 Cor. viii. 5. AVhcre 
faith is, there will be a giving of ourselves and our goods ; and, by a pro- 
portion, our strength, wits, and all back again. This discovers a great deal 
of empty false faith in the world ; for undoubtedly if it were true faith there 
would be a yielding back again. 

Use 2. And again, these words discover the mutual coherence of justifi- 
cation and sanctification, and the dependence one upon another. * I am my 
beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' Christ is mine ; his righteousness is 
mine for my justification ; I am clothed with Christ as it is, * The spouse 
there is clothed with the sun,' Rev. xii. 1, with the beams of Christ. But 
is that all ? No. ' I am my beloved's ;' I am Christ's. There is a return 
of faith in sanctification. The same Spirit that witnesseth Christ is ours, 
it sanctifies and alters our disposition, that we can say, I am Christ's. 
It serves to instruct us therefore in the necessary connection of these two, 
justification and sanctification, against the idle slander of papists, that sin- 
fully traduce that doctrine, as if we were Solifideans (r), as if we severed 
justification from sanctification. No. We hold here that whensoever 
Christ is ours, there is a spirit of sanctification in us, to yield all to Christ, 
though this resignation be not presently perfect. 

Use 3. This likewise helps us, by way of direction, to understand the 
covenant of grace, and the seals of the covenant, what they enforce and 
comprise ; not only what God will do to us, but the duty we are to do to 
him again, though we do it in his strength. A covenant holds not on one 
side, but on both. Christ is mine, and I am Christ's again. ' I will be 
their God,' but they must have grace ' to be my people,' Lev. xxvi. 12 ; and 
then the covenant is made up. The covenant of grace is so called, because 
God is so gracious as to enable us to perform our own part. 

And so in the seals of the covenant in baptism. God doth not only 
bind himself to do thus and thus to us, but binds us also to do back again 
to him. So in the communion, we promise to lead a new life, renewing 
our covenant ; and therefore we must not think that all is well (when we 
have received our Maker), though we continue in a scandalous, fruitless 
course of life. No. There is a promise in the sacrament (the seal of the 
covenant of gi'ace), to yield up ourselves to God, to return to Christ 
again with our duty. Then we come as we should do when we come 
thus disposed. This for direction, ' My beloved is mine, and I am my 

Use 4. To proceed to make an use of comfort to poor, doubting Chris- 
tians. ' I am my beloved's,' is the voice of the whole church, that all 
ranks of Christians, if they be true, may without presumption take up. I 
have not so much faith, so much love, so much grace, so much patience 


as another, saith a poor Christian ; therefore I am none of Christ's. But 
we must know that Christ hath in his church of all ranks, and they are all 
his spouse, one as well as another, there is no exception. There is a little 
spirit of emulation, and a spice of envy, in Christians that are weaker. If 
they have not all that great measure of grace which they see in others, they 
fear they have none at all ; as if there were no babes in Christ's school as 
well as men and grown persons. 

Then again, we see here the nature of faith in the whole church. It is 
the same that is in every particular, and the same in every particular as it 
is in the whole church. The whole church saith, ' I am my beloved's, 
and my beloved is mine.' I appropriate him. There is a spirit of appro- 
priation in the whole, and there is so in each particular. Every Christian 
may say with Paul, ' I live by faith in the Son of God, that hath loved me, 
and gave himself for me,' Gal. ii. 20 ; and with Thomas, ' My God, and my 
Lord,' John xx. 28. 

The ground hereof is, because they are all one in Christ, and there is 
one and the same Spirit in the whole church and every particular Chris- 
tian, as in pipes, though of different sounds, yet there is the same breath 
in them. So Christians may have diflferent sounds, from the greater or 
lesser strength of grace that is in the one and in the other, but all comes 
fi'om the same breath, the same Spirit. The Spirit in the bride saith Come, 
Eev. xxii. 17, the whole church saith it, and every particular Christian 
must say it ; because, as the body is acted by one spirit, and makes but 
one natural body, though consisting of many parts weaker and stronger, 
so should there be a harmony in this mystical body acted by that one 
Spirit of Christ, who so regards all, as if there were but one, and regards 
every one so, as he doth not forget the whole. Sic omnibus attentiis iit noii 
detentus, dv. Christ so attends to all, that he is not detained from any 
particular, and he so attends every particular, that he is not restrained 
from all. There is the same love to all as to one, and to every one, as if 
there were no other. He so loves each one, that every Christian may say 
as well as the whole church, Christ is mine, and I am Christ's. 

In those things that we call homogeneal, there is the same nature in 
each quantity as in the whole, as there is the same nature in one drop of 
water as in the whole ocean, all is water ; and the same respect of a spark, 
and of all the element of fire. So Christ bears the same respect to the 
church as to every particular, and to every particular as to the church. 

Use 5. To come to make an use of direction, hoiv to come to be able to 
say this, ' 1 am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' For answer here- 
to, take notice in the first place, from the dependence. Christ must be 
first ours, before we can give ourselves to him. 

(1.) Therefore, we must dwell on the consideration of Christ's love. 
This must direct and lead our method in this thing. Would we have our 
hearts to love Christ, to trust in him, and to embrace him, why then think 
what he is to us. Begin there ; nay, and what we are : weak, and in our 
apprehension, lost. Then go to consider his love, his constant love to his 
church and children. ' Whom he loves, he loves to the end,' John xiii. 1. 
We must warm our souls with the consideration of the love of God in him 
to us, and this will stir up our faith to him back again. For we are more 
safe in that he is ours. Gal. iv. 9, Philip, iii. 12, than that we give ourselves 
to him. We are more safe in his comprehending of us, than in our clasp- 
ing and holding of him. As we say of the mother and the child, both 
hold, but the safety of the child is that the mother holds him. If Christ 

C.\NT. VI. 8.] * MY BELOVED IS MINE.' 185 

once give himself to us, he will make good his own part alway. Oiu safety 
is more on his side than on ours. If ever we have felt the love of Christ, 
we may comfort ourselves with the constancy and perpetuity thereof. 
Though, perhaps, we find not our affections warmed to him at all times, 
nor alike, yet the strength of a Christian's comfort lies in this, that first, 

* Christ is mine,' and then, in the second place, that ' I am his.' Now, I 
say, that we may be able to maintain this blessed tradition of givin"' our- 
selves to Christ, 

(2.) Let us dwell on the consideration of his love to us, and of the 
necessity that we have of him ; how miserable we are without him, poor, 
beggarly, in bondage to the devil. Therefore we must have him to recover 
us out of debt, and to enrich us. For Christ's love carries him forth, not 
only to pay all our debts for us, but to enrich us ; and it is a protecting, 
preserving love, till he brings us to heaven, his own place, where we shall 
ever be with him. The consideration of these things will warm our hearts, 
and for this purpose serves the ministry. 

(3.) We should therefore, in the next place, attend upon the word, for 
this very end. Wherefore serves the ministry ? Among many others, 
this is one main end—' to lay open the unsearchable riches of Christ.' 
Therein you have something of Christ unfolded, of his natures, offices, and 
benefits we have by him, — redemption, and freedom, and a right to all 
things in him, the excellencies of another world. Therefore attend upon 
the means of salvation, that we may know what riches we have in him. 
This will keep our affections close to Chtist, so as to say, ' I am his.' 

(4.) And labour we also every day more and more to bring all our love 
to him. We see in bm*ning-glasses, where the beams of the sun meet in 
one, how forcible they are, because there is an union of the beams in a 
little point. Let it be our labour that all the beams of our love may meet 
in Christ, that he may be as the chux-ch saith, our beloved. ' My beloved 
is mine, and I am my beloved's,' saith she, as if the church had no love 
out of Christ. And is it love lost ? No ; but as Christ is the church's 
beloved, so the church is Christ's love again, as we see in this book oft, 

* My love, my dove.' As all streams meet in the great ocean, so let all 
our loves meet in Christ. We may love other things, and we should do 
so, but no otherwise than as they convey love to us from Christ, and may 
be means of drawing up our affections unto Christ. AVe may love our 
friends, and we ought to do so, and other blessings of God ; but how ? 
No otherwise than as tokens of his love to us. We love a thing that our 
friends send to us. 0, but it is as it doth convey his affection to us. So 
must we love all things, as they come from God's love to us in Christ. 

And, indeed, whatsoever we have is a love-token, even our very afflic- 
tions themselves. * Whom I love, I rebuke and chastise,' Heb. xii. 6. 

(5.) Again, that we may inflame our hearts with the love of Christ, as 
we are exhorted by Jude, 21, let us consider the vanity of all things that 
entice us from Christ, and labour every day more and more to draw our 
afiections from them, as we are exhorted — ' Hearken, daughter, and 
consider, and incline thine ear ; forget also thine own people, and thy 
father's house : so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty,' Ps. xlv. 10. 
So, if we will have Christ to delight in us, that we may say we are his, let 
us labour to sequester our affections more and more from all earthly things, 
that we may not have such hearts, as St James spcaketh of, adulterous 
hearts. * 3'e adulterers and adulteresses ! know ye not that the love of 
the world is enmity with God ? ' James iv. 4. 


Indeed there is reason for this exhortation ; for all earthly things, they 
are all vain and empty things. There is an emptiness in -whatsoever is in 
the world, save Christ. Therefore we should not set our affections toe 
much upon them. A man cannot be wise in loving anything but Christ, 
and what he loves for Christ. Therefore let us follow that counsel, to 
draw ourselves from our former company, acquaintance, pleasures, delights, 
and vanities. We cannot bestow our love and our affections better than 
upon Christ. It is a happiness that we have such affections, as joy, delight, 
and love, planted in us by God ; and what a happiness is it, that we should 
have such an excellent object to fill those affections, yea, to transcend and 
more than satisfy them ! Therefore the apostle wisheth that they might 
know all the dimensions of God's love in Christ. There is a ' height, 
breadth, length, and depth of the love of God,' Eph. iii. 18. 

And let us think of the dimensions, the height, breadth, and depth of 
our misery out of Christ. The more excellent our natures are, the more 
miserable they are if not changed ; for look what degree of excellency we 
have, if it be not advanced in Christ, we have so much misery being out of 
him. Therefore let us labour to see this, as to value our being in him, so 
to be able, upon good grounds, to say, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved 
is mine.' 

(6.) Again, let us labour to walk in the Hght of a sanctified knowledge to 
be attained by the gospel, for as it is, ' the end of all our preaching is 
to assure Christ to the soul,' 1 John v. 13, that we may be able to say 
without deceiving our own souls, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is 
mine.' All preaching, I say, is for this end. The terror of the law and 
the discovery of corruption is to drive us out of ourselves to him ; and then 
to provoke us to grow up into him more and more. Therefore saith John, 
' All our preaching is that we may have fellowship with the Father and the 
Son, and they with us,' 1 John i. 7. And what doth he make an evidence 
of that fellowship? ' walking in the light, as he is light,' or else we are liars. 
He is bold in plain terms to give us the lie, to say we are Christ's, andha-?e 
communion with the Father and the Son, when yet we walk in darkness. 
In sins against conscience, in wilful ignorance, the darkness of an evil life, 
we have no communion with Christ. Therefore if we will have communion 
with him, let us walk in the light, and labour to be lightsome in om- under- 
standings, to have a gi-eat deal of knowledge, and then to walk answerable 
to that light and revelation that we have. Those that live in sins against 
conscience, and are friends to the darkness of ignorance, of an evil life. Oh 
they never think of the fellowship with Christ and with God ! These things 
are mere riddles to them ; they have no hope of them, or if any, their hope 
is in vain. They bar themselves of ever having comfortable communion 
with Christ here ; much less shall they enjoy him hereafter in heaven. 

Therefore labour eveiy day more and more to grow rich in knowledge, to 
get light, and to walk in that light ; to which end pray with the holy apostle, 
' That you may have the Spirit of revelation,' Eph. i. 17, that excellent Spirit 
of God, to reveal the thing? of God, that we may have the light discovered 
to us. 

What a world of comfort hath a Christian that hath light in him and 
walks in that light, above another man. Whether he live or die, the light 
brings him into fellowship with the Father of lights. He that hath this 
light knows his condition and his way, and whither he goeth. When he 
dieth he knows in what condition he dieth, and upon what grounds. The 
very light of nature is comfortable, much more that of grace. Therefore 

Cant. VI. 3.j * hty beloved is mine. 187 

laboui- to grow daily more and more in the knowledge and obedience of the 

All professors of the gospel are either such as arc not Christ's, or nnh as 
are his. For such as are not yet, that you may be provoked to dra^' 1.> 
fellowship with Christ, do but consider you are as branches cut o^f, that 
will wither and die, and be cast into the fire, unless you be grafted into the 
living stock, Christ. You ai'e as naked persons in a storm, not clothed with 
anything to stand against the storm of God's wrath. Let this force you to 
get into Christ. 

Use 6. And next for encouragement consider, Christ offcrdh himiclf to all 
in the gospel; and that is the end of the ministry, to bring Christ and our souls 
together, to make a spiritual marriage, to lay open his riches and to draw 
you to him, 1 John i. 9. If you confess your sins, he will forgive them, 
and you shall have mercy, ' He relieves those that are wearied and heavy 
laden,' Mat. xi. 28, and bids those come to him that are thirsty, Isa. Iv. 1. 
Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. Christ offers himself 
in mercy to the worst soul. 

Therefore if there be anj' that have lived in e\'il courses, in former times, 
consider that upon repentance all shall be forgotten, and as a mist scattered 
away and cast into the bottom of the sea. Cluist offers himself to you. 
These are the times, this is the hour of gi'ace. Now the water is stirring 
for you to enter ; do but entertain Christ, and desire that he may be yours 
to rule you and guide you, and all will be well for the time to come. 

Ohj. Do not object, I am a loathsome creature, fall of rebellions. 

Ans. Christ doth not match uith you, because you are good, but to make 
you good. Christ takes you not with any dowry. All that he requires is to 
confess your beggary and to come with emptiness. He takes us not be- 
cause we are clean, but because he wdl purge us. He takes us in our blood 
when he fii'st takes us, Ezek. xvi. 9. Let none despair either for want of 
worth or of strength, Eph. v. 27. Christ seeth that for strength we are 
dead, and for worth we are enemies ; but he gives us both spiritual strength 
and worth, takes us near to himself and enricheth us. Let none therefore 
be discouraged. It is our office, thus to lay open and offer the riches of 
Christ. If you will not come in, but love your sinful courses more than 
Christ, .then you perish in your blood, and we free our hands, and may free 
our souls from the gudt thereof. Therefore as you love your o^vn souls, 
come in at length and stand out no longer. 

And for those that have in some measure given themselves up to Christ, 
and can say, ' He is mine and I am his,' let them go on with comfort, and 
never be discouraged for the infu-mities that hang about them. For one 
part of Christ's office is to purge his church by his Spirit more and moi'e ; 
not to cast her away for her infii-mities, ' but to wash and cleanse it more 
and more till it be a glorious spouse like himself,' Eph. v. 27. For if the 
husband vnW, by the bond of nature, bear with the infirmities of the wife, 
as the weaker vessel, doth not Christ bind himself by that which he accounts 
us bound ? Is there more love and mercy, and pity in us to those that wo 
take near us, than there is in Christ to us ? What a most blasphemous 
thought were this to conceive so ! Only let us take heed of being in 
league with sin ; for we cannot give our souls to Christ, and to sinful 
courses too. Christ will allow of no bigamy or double marriage. Wlierc 
he hath anything to do, we must have single hearts, resolving, though I 
fall, yet I purpose to please Christ, and to go on in a good conversation ; 
and tf our hearts tell us so, daily infirmities ought not to discourage us. 


We have helps enough for these. First, Christ bids us ask forgiveness ; 
and then we have the mercy of Christ to bear with weaker vessels. Then 
his advocation.* He is now in heaven to plead for us. If we were perfect, 
we needed not that office, 1 John ii. 2. Let none be discouraged there- 
fore ; but let us labour more and more that wo may be able to comprehend 
in some measure the love of Christ, so will all duties come off sweetly and 
easily ; and then we shall be enabled to suffer all things, not only willingly, 
but cheerfully, and rejoice in them. Love is of the nature of fire, which as 
it severeth and consumeth all that is opposite, all dross and dregs, and 
dissolves coldness, so it quickens and makes active and lively. It hath a 
kind of constraining force, a sweet violence. As the apostle saith, ' the 
love of Christ constraineth,' 2 Cor. v. 24. 

Let a man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, be called to part 
with his life, he will yield it as a sacrifice with comfort. Come what will, 
all is welcome, when we are inflamed with the love of Christ ; and the more 
we suffer, the more we find his love. For he reserves the manifestation of 
his love most for times of suffering ; and the more we find the manifesta- 
tion of his love, the more we love him back again, and rejoice in suffering 
for him that we love so. Whether they be duties of obedience, active or 
passive, doing or sufiering, all comes oli' with abundance of cheerfulness and 
ease, where the love of Christ is, that the soul can say, ' I am my beloved's, 
and my beloved is mine.' Nothing in the world is able to make such a 
soul miserable. It follows. 

' He feedeth among the lilies. The church here shews where Christ 

Quest. But the question is, Whether it bo the feeding of the churcn and 
people that is meant, or whether he feeds himself ? 

Alts. For answer, he both feeds his church among the lilies, and delights 
himself to be there. The one follows the other. Especially it is meant of 
the church. Those that are his, he feeds them among the lilies. How ? 

Lilies are such kind of flowers as require a great deal of nourishment, 
and grow best in valleys and fat ground. Therefore when she saith, ' He 
feeds among the lilies,' the meaning is, he feeds his church and people 
in lat pastures, as sheep in such grounds as are sweet and fruitful. Such 
are his holy word and the communion of saints. These ai'e especially the 
pastures wherein he feeds his church. The holy truths of God are the 
food of the soul, whereby it is cherished and nourished up to life everlast- 
ing. This whole book is a kind of pastoral (to understand the word a little 
better), a ' song of a beloved' concerning a beloved. Therefore Christ in 
many places of this book, he takes upon him the term and carriage, as it 
were, of a loving shepherd, who labours to find out for his sheep the fattest, 
fruitfulest, best, and sweetest pastures, that they may grow up as calves of 
the stall, as it is Majachi iv. 2, that they may grow and be well liking. 

You have, to give light to this place, a phrase somewhat like this, where he 
follows the point more at large. Cant. i. 7. The church there prays to 
Christ, ' Tell me, thou wlmm my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where 
thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon.' Those that are coming up in the 
church desire to know with whom they may join, and what truths they may 
embrace. ' Tell mo where thou feedest, and where thou makest thy flock 
to rest at noon :' that is, in the greatest heat and storm of persecution, as 
at noon-day the sun is hottest. ' For why should I be as one that turns 
aside by the flocks of thy companions ?' that is, by those that are not true 
* That is, ' advocacy.' — Ed. 

Cant. VI. 3.] * he feedeth among the lilies.' 189 

fi-iends, that arc false shepherds ; why should I be drawn away by them ? 
I desire to feed where thou feedest anaong thy sheep. Why should I be as 
one that turns aside by the flocks of those tlaat are emulators to thee ? as 
antichrist is to Christ. Thus the church puts forth to Christ, whereunto 
Christ replies, verse 8. ' If thou know not, thou fairest among women, 
go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the 
shepherds' tents :' that is, if thou know not, go thy way forth, get thee out 
of thyself, out of the world, out of thy former course, put thyself forward, 
stay not complaining, go on, put thyself to endeavour, go thy way forth. 
Whither ? ' In the footsteps of the flocks.' See the steps of Christians in 
the best times of the church in former times. Tread in the steps of those 
that lived in the best ages of the church. ' Feed thy kids,' thy Christians, 
' beside the shepherds' tents,' the best shepherds. Mark where the apostles 
and prophets fed their sheep ; there feed thou. And mark the footsteps of 
the flock that have lived in the best times ; for of all times since the apostles 
and prophets, we must follow those virgin best times. All churches arc so 
far true churches, as they have consanguinity with the primitive apostolical 
and prophetical chui'ches. 

Therefore, ' we are now to go out by the footsteps of the flock.' Mark the 
footsteps of former Christians, Abraham, Moses, and David ; and in Christ's 
time, of John, Peter, and the rest. Blessed saints ! walk as they walked, 
go their way, and ' feed yourselves by the shepherds' tents.' Mark the 
shepherds where they have their tents ! So these words have reference to 
the prophetical, especially to the evangelical times, whereunto we must con- 
form ourselves ; for the latter times are apostate times. After a certain 
season the church kept not her purity; which the Scriptures foretold directly, 
that we should not take scandal at it. The church did fall to a kind of 
admiration of antichrist, and embraced doctrines of devils, 1 Tim. iv. 1. 
Therefore now we must not follow these companies that lead into by-paths, 
contrary to the apostolical ways, but see wherein our church agrees with 
the apostolical churches and truth, and embrace no truth for the food of 
our souls, but that we find in the gospel. For antichrist feeds his flocks with 
wind, and with poison, and with empty things. For what hath been the 
food in popery ? Sweet and goodly titles ; as if they, poor souls, had the 
best pastors in the world, whenas they administer to them nothing but that 
which will be the bane of their souls, full of poison and fraud. This is 
spoken to unfold that place which gives Hght to this, spoken of the pastoral 
care of Christ, ' he feeds his flock among the lilies,' plentifully and sweetly. 
From hence may be briefly observed, fij.-st, 

That Christ feeds as xvelL as breeds. And we have need of feeding as well 
as breeding. Where dost thou feed ? that is, build up tliy children, and 
go on with the work begun in them. We have need to be fed after we are 
bred ; and Christ (answerable to our exigence and necessity) he feeds as 
well as breeds ; and that word which is the seed to beget us, is that which 
feeds too, 1 Peter i. 23. What is the seed of the new birth ? The word 
of God, the holy promises, they are the seed, the Spirit mingling with them, 
whereby a Christian is born, and being born, is cherished and bred. There- 
fore, ' as new-born babes,' saith the apostle, ' desire the sincere milk of 
the word, that you may grow thereby,' 1 Peter ii. 1. So that the same 
thing is both the seed of a Christian, and that which breeds him ; the blessed 
truth and promises of God. 

Quest. If you ask, why we must grow up and be fed still ? 
, Ans. 1. Do but ask your own souls, whether there be not a perpetual re- 


newing of corruption, which still breaks out into new guilt every day. There- 
fore we have need to feed every day anew upon the promises, upon old pro- 
naiscs with new affections. Somewhat breaks out ever and anon which 
abaseth the soul of a Christian, that makes him go with a sharp appetite to 
the blessed truths that feed his soul. 

Ans. 2. And then again, we need a great deal of strength, which ig 
maintained by feeding. Besides the guilt of the soul, there needs strength 
for duty, which must be fetched fi'om the blessed word of God, and the com- 
forts thence, wheieby we are able to withstand and resist, to stand and do 
all that we do. 

Alls. 3. And then we are set upon by variety of temptations within and 
Vv'ithout, which require variety of wisdom and strength, all which must be 
gotten by feeding ; and therefore you see a Christian for his subsistence and 
being, hath need ol a feeding, cherishing, and maintaining still, by the sweet 
and blessed directions and promises out of the word of God. 

Therefore you may see what kind of atheistical creatures those are, and 
how much they are to be regarded, that turn off all with a compendium in 
religion. Tush, if we know that we must love God above all, and our neigh- 
bours as ourselves, and that Christ died for all, we know enough, more 
than we can practise. They think these compendiums will serve the turn, 
as if there were not a necessity of growing still further and further in distinct 
knowledge. Alas ! the soul needs to be fed continually. It will stagger 
else, and be insufficient to stand against temptation, or to perform duties. 

A second general point out of the text is this, fliat as Christ feedeth still 
his J^ock and people, so he feeds them fully, plentifully, and sweetly among the 
lilies. There are saving truths enough. There is an all -sufficiency in the 
book of God. Whdt need we go out to man's inventions, seeing there is a 
fulness and all-sufficiency of truth there ? "Whatsoever is not in that is 
wind, or poison. In the word is a full kind of feeding. In former times 
when they had not the Scriptures, and the comforts of them to feed 
on, what did the poor souls then ? and what do those remaining in popery 
feed on ? Upon stones as it were. There was a dream of an holy man in 
those times, divers hundred years agone, that he saw one having a deal of 
manchet* to feed on, and yet all the while the poor wretch he fed on stones. 
Wliat folly and misery is this, when there are delicate things to feed on, 
to gnaw upon stones ! And what is all the school learning almost, (except 
one or two that had better spirits than the rest) but a gnawing upon stones, 
barren distinctions, empty things, that had no substance in them ? They had 
the Scriptures, though they were locked up in Latin, an unknown tongue. 
They had the sweet pastures of Christ to feed in ; and yet all this while 
they fed, as it uere, on stones. 

This should shew ns, likewise, our own blessedness that live in these timeSy 
wherein the streams of the gospel run abundantly, sweetly, and pleasantly. 
There is a fulness among us, even in the spirits of the worst sort. There 
is a fulness almost to loathing of that heavenly manna : but those souls, 
who ever were acquainted ^vith the necessity of it, rather find a want than 
a fulness ; and still desire to grow up to a further desire, that as they have 
plentiful means, so they may have plentiful affections after, and strength by 
those means. Let us know our own happiness in these times. Is it not 
a comfort to know where to feed and to have pastures to go to, without 
suspicion of poison ? that we may feed ourselves with comforts fully without 
fear of bane, or noisome mingling of coloquintida in the pot, which would 
* That is, ' wliite-bread.' See Holinshed, Description of England, B. ii. c. 6. — G. 

Cant. VI. 3.] ' he feedeth among the lilies.' 191 

disrelish all the rest? to know that there are truths that we may feed on safely? 
This the church in the former place, Cant. i. 6, 7, accounted a great pri- 
vilege, ' Oh, shew me where thou feedest at noon.' In the gi-eatest heat of 
persecution, that I may feed among them. So then it is a great pri^^lege 
to know where to feed, and so to be esteemed, that thereby we may be stirred 
up to be thankful for our own good, and to improve these privileges to our 
souls' comfort. 

But the second branch that must be touched a little is, that there is ful- 
ness iiouJiere but in God's house; and that there, and there only, is that iihich 
satisfieth the soul u'ith fatness and sweetness. 

Nay, not only the promises, but the very rebukes, of Scripture, are sweet. 
The rebukes of a friend, they feed the soul. For we have many corrup- 
tions which hinder our communion with God, so that a Christian delights 
to have his corruptions rebuked ; for he knows, if he leave them, he 
shall grow into further communion with Christ, wherein stands his happi- 
ness in this world, and the fulness of his happiness in the world to come. 

If this be so, let us know then that when we come to religion we lose 
not the sweetness of our lives, but only translate them to a far more ex- 
cellent and better condition. Perhaps we fed before upon vain authors, 
upon (as it were) gravel, vain company ; but now we have our delight (and 
perhaps find more pleasure) in better things. Instead of that which fed 
our idle fancy (vain treatises and the like), now we have holy truths to 
delight our souls. Believe it, a Christian never knows what comfort is to 
purpose till he be downright and sincere in religion. Therefore Austin 
saith of himself, ' Lord, I have wanted thy sweetness over long. I see all 
my former life (that I thought had such sweetness in it) was nothing 
at all but husks, empty things. Now I knov\' where sweetness is, it is in 
the word and truth.' * Therefore let us not misconceive of religion as of a 
mopish and dull thing, wherein we must lose all comfort. If we give our- 
selves over to the study thereof, must we so ? Must we lose our comfort ? 
Nay, we have no comfort till we be religious indeed. Christ feeds not his 
among thorns and briers and stinking weeds, but among lilies. Dost thou 
think he feeds thee among unsavoury, harsh, fretting, galling things ? No ; 
' he feeds among lilies.' Therefore when thou comest to religion, think 
that thou comest to comfort, to refresh thy soul. Let us make use of this 
for our soul's comfort, to make us in love more with the ways of Christ. 

Now, to seal this further, see what the Scripture saith in some parallel 
places. ' The Lord is my shepherd ;' and what is the use that David pre- 
sently makes hereof? Why, 'I shall want nothing,' Ps. xxiii. 1. He will 
feed me plentifully and abundantly. The whole psalm is nothing but a 
commenting upon that word, 'the Lord is my shepherd.' How doth he 
perform the duty of a shepherd ? ' He makes me to lie down in green 
pastures, and leads me by the still waters.' It is not only meant of the 
body, but of the soul chiefly, ' he restore th my soul ;' that is, when my 
soul languisheth and is ready to faint, he restores it, and gives me as it 
were a new soul ; he refresheth it. We sec say,-;= re-creation is the creating 
of a thing anew. So he restores my soul ; he gives me my soul anew, 
with fresh comforts. Thus the blessed Shepherd doth, and how ? Because 
* he feeds among the lihes,' the promises of the gospel. Then he doth not 
only do good to the body and soul, but he guides all our ways, all our 
goings out, 'he leads us in the paths of righteousness.' And why? 

♦ Confessions, b. x. p. [xxviii.] 38. — G. 

t That is, ' wc seo that people, etymologists, say.' — Ed, 


Because I deserve so much at his hands ? No ; ' for his own name's sake,' 
because he hath a love to me ; because he hath purchased me with his 
blood, and given his life for his sheep ; hath bought me so dear, though 
there be no worth in me. He goes on, * Though I walk through all temp- 
tations and troubles,' which are as 'the valley of the shadow of death,' 
that is, where there is nothing but disconsolation and misery ; ' yet I will 
fear none ill; thou, with thy rod and staff, dost comfort me.' If I, as a 
wandering sheep, venture to go out of the way, thou, out of thy care, being 
a sweet and loving shepherd, wilt pull me in with thy hook and staff again. 
He hath not care only to feed us, but to govern us also. What a sweet 
Shepherd and Saviour have we in covenant, that deals thus with us I 
And so he proceeds, ' Thou wilt prepare my table in the presence of mine 
enemies.' And for the time to come he promiseth himself as much, that 
God, as he hath been a Shepherd for the present, to provide all things 
necessary for body and soul and guidance, so sui'ely the goodness of the 
Lord shall follow me all the days of my life ; for he is a perpetual Shep- 
herd. He will not leave us till he hath brought us to heaven. Thus we 
see in this pkce the sweet care of Christ. 

The like place you have — ' He shall feed his flock hke a shepherd ; he 
shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and 
shall gently lead those that are with young,' Isa. xl, 11. So he leads them 
into the pastures, and feeds them plentifully and sweetly, not only with 
sweet things, but with a tender care, which is sweeter. As a shepherd, he 
takes into his bosom the poor lambs that cannot walk themselves, and the 
sheep that are heavy with young. He cares for them ; ' he gently leads 
them ' that are poor, weak Christians, that struggle and conflict with many 
temptations and corruptions. Christ hath a tender care of them. He 
carries them, as it were, in his bosom and in his arms, and leads them 
gently ; for indeed all Christ's sheep are weak. Every one hath somewhat 
to complain of. Therefore he hath a tender care ; he feeds them tenderly 
and sweetly, or else they might perish. 

Another place notable for this pm'pose, see Ezek. xxxiv. 14, se^'., wherein 
you have the same metaphor from a loving shepherd ; and it is but a com- 
ment upon the text. Therefore, being parallel places, they may help our 
memories : ' I will feed them in good pastures upon the high mountains of 
Israel; there shall their fold be; there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a 
fat pasture. I will feed my flock, and cause them to lie down, saith the 
Lord God. I will seek that which is lost, and bring back that which was 
driven away ; I will bind up that which was broken, and strengthen that 
which is sick, and destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them with 
judgment.' Those that are Christ's true sheep have somewhat to complain 
of. Either they are sick, or broken, or driven away. Somewhat is amiss 
or other. But Christ's care preventeth all the necessities of his sheep. He 
hath a fit salve for all their sores.* And, to apply this to the business in 
haud,f doth not Christ feed us ' among the lilies ?' Doth he not now feed 
us with his own body and blood in the sacrament ? Would you have better 
food ? ' My body is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed,' — that is, 
it is the only meat, with an emphasis ; the only meat and drink that our 
Bouls could feed upon. God gave his Son to death, to shed his blood for 
my sins. What would become of the hunger-bitten, thirsty soul, that is 

* This is tlie title of one of Tliomas Powell's excellent practical treatises, viz. : — 
' Salvo for Soul-Sores.' — G. 

t That is, celebration of the sacrament. — G. 

Cant. VI. 3.] ' he feedeth among the lilies.' 193 

stung with Satan and his temptations, were it not for the blood of Christ 
to quench our thirst, and the body of Christ given by the Father to death 
for sin ? Were it not that the soul could think upon this, where were the 
comfort of the soul ? All this is represented to us here in the sacrament. 
We feed on the body and blood of Christ spiritually, and are refreshed 
thereby, as verily as our l^odies are refreshed with the bread and wine. 
For God doth not feed us with empty symbols and representations, but 
with things themselves, that the soul which comes prepared by faith is 
partaker of Christ crucified, and is knit to him, though now in heaven. 
There is as sure an union and communion between Christ and the Chris- 
tian soul, as there is between the food and the body, when it is once 

Therefore let us come to this blessed, to this sweet food of our souls 
with hungi-y appetites and thankful hearts, that God hath given us the best 
comforts of his word, and fed us with the sweet comforts of the sacraments, 
as a seal of the word. We should even spend our lives much in thankful- 
ness for this, that he will feed us so sweetly, that thinks nothing is good 
enough for our food, but his own self, with his own gracious word and 
truth. Thus we should be very thankful unto God, and now at this time 
labour to get hungry appetites fit for this blessed food to receive it. 

How shall we do that ? 

1. Think seriously of the former part of thy life, and this week past. 
For Christ, the food of the soul, relisheth well with the sour herbs of repent- 
ance. Let us stir up in our hearts repentance for our sins, and sorrow in 
the consideration of our own corrupt nature and hfe ; and when we have 
felt our corruptions and have the sense of our want, then Christ will be 
sweet to us. The paschal lamb was to be eaten with som' herbs ; so Christ 
our passover must be eaten with repentance. 

2. Then withal there must be purging. There are many things which 
clog the stomach. Come not with worldly, wicked, malicious affections, 
which puff up the soul, James i. 21 ; ' but lay aside,' as the apostle wish- 
cth, ' all guile, malice, and superfluity,' 1 Pet. ii. 1. Empty the soul of 
all sin and prepossessing* thoughts or affections. 

3. And then consider the necessity of spii'itual strength, that we have need 
to grow up more and more in Christianity, to be feeding still. We have need 
of strong faith and strong assurance that Christ is ours, and that we arc his. 
Let us often frequent this ordinance, and come prepared as we should, and 
we shall find Christ making good his own ordinance, in his own best time ; 
so as we shall be able to say, in truth of heart, experimentally and feelingly 
with the church, * My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feedeth among 
the lihes.' 



(a) P. 4. — ' Some would have Solomon, by a spirit of prophecy, to take a view here 
of ail the time,' &c. For a very full ami valuable, tbough, in respect of the early 
En<^lish expositors (of wliom there arc many in whole or part), defective and meagre, 
* Historical Sketch of the Exegesis of the Book' coTisult Ginsburg's ' Song of Songs, 
.... with a Commentary, Historical and Critical,' (London, Longman, 1857, 8vo) 
pp. 20-lOL The opinions referred to by Sibbes will be found duly recorded. 

* That is, ' pro-occupying." — G. 
VOL. U. N 



(6) P. 35. — • One soul in two bodies.' This definition of friendship, which is 
again and again introduced by Sibbes and his contemporaries, is ascribed to Aristotle 
by Diogenes Laertius (v. § 20), as follows: I^UTrjOBig rl 'seri (piXog, 'e<prj, /xia 
■^vy^^ dvo aufjuadiv ' BvoiTCovoa. Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic, ix. 8, § 2, Ovid. Trist., 
iv. 4, 72. Probably Sibbes derived it from Augustine (a favourite with him), who 
applies it to his friend Nebridius. Materials for an interesting paper on this saying, 
in its multiform variations, have accumulated in my hands. 

(c) P. 37. — ' This goeth in the world for unnecessary nicely.' This reminds us of 
n anecdote of the saintly Richard Eogers, who was remarkable for seriousness and 

gravity in all kinds of company. Being once engaged in conversation with one of 
the ' wits,' who said to him, ' Mr Eogers, I like you and your company very well, 
only you are too precise;' he replied, 'Oh, sir, I serve a precise God.' — Firmin's 
Eeal Christian, p. 67, ed. 1670. 

(d) P. 38. — ' Postill-like.' The allusion, no doubt, is to the over-subtle distinctions 
and uselessly curious speculations of the scholastic expositions of Scripture, which 
are called ' Postilla.' Various had been translated in the time of Sibbes, under the 
title of ' Postils.' 

(e) P. 48. — ' Da mihi cor.' Jesuitism, even in its present working, proceeds on 
this maxim, of which there have been many startling evidences. 

(/) P. 60. — ' God spake in me oft, and I knew it not.' This is the touching bur- 
den of the early chapters of Augustine's Confessions. 

(/*) P. 61. — ' Ballarmine makes this objection,' &c. An ignorat eos aperire non 
posse ? An stultus non esset, qui ostium vicini pulsaret, si certo sciret neminem 
intus esse qui aperire posset. Bell, de gratia et lib. : arbit. lib. i., cap. xi. 

[g) P. 74. — ' She is now desirous to pity herself, and needs no Peter to stir her up 
to it.' The allusion is to Mat. svi. 22. In our translation it is rendered, ' Be it far 
from thee, Lord,' which obscures the pathos of the devoted apostle's mistaken, but 
most loving appeal. It should be ' Fity thyself.' Hence Sibbes's reference. 

(A) P 84. — ' It was a good speech of Ignatius the martyr,' &c. There are 
various sayings resembling this in the epistles of Ignatius, e.g., to the Ephesians, 
3. xviii., to the Trallians, c. ix-xi., to the Eomans, c. ii.-iv., and vi. Probably Sibbes 
refers to the ancient narrative of the ' martyrdom of Ignatius.' Cf. § 2. Patrura 
Apostolicorum Opera, ed. Hefele. 8vo. 1847. 

{i) P. 03.— Hebrews xii. 1. Cf. Sibbes's translation, with Alford, "Webster and 
Wilkinson, and Dr Sampson, in loc. He repeats this and other renderings in his 
Parious books. 

(J) P, 121. — 'Austin was forced to speak in his time against the Donatists.' For 
a very masterly account of this and other of the great fathers' controversies, consult 
Wigger's ' Historical Presentation of Augustinism and Pelagianism from the Ori- 
ginal Sources,' (ed. by Emerson. Andover, 1840. 8vo). 

{k) P. 125. — 'He [the Lord] . . . would have their [disciples'] society a.nd prayers .' 
This is the popular view, but, like the popular understanding of Thomas, thrusting 
his fingers into the side and nail-prints of the risen Saviour, (See note a, vol. i., 
p. 101), is probably a popular mistake. Our Lord sought the society of his disciples 
certainly ; but nowhere do we read of his asking any one to pray for him. It is an 
awful peculiarity of the divine man ' Emanuel,' that he never did that, — one of a 
multitude of subsidiary assertions of his divinity. 

(I) P. 132. — '" What is truth?" saith he, in a scornful, profane manner.' This, 
almost verbatim the opening words of Bacon's Essay on ' Truth,' reminds one, with 
others, of Sibbes's intercourse with him, noticed in our memoir. 

(m) P. 149. — ' So should we now .... have ideas of Christ framed to our souls,' 
&c. For a very valuable, and, in many respects, remarkably acute and suggestive 
discussion of the question of framing ' ideas of Christ,' a subject keenly debated in 
the last century in Scotland, consult the following little-known book, by Ealph 

Erskine— ' Faith no Fancy ; or a Treatise cf Mental Images shewing that 

our imaginary idea of Christ as Man (when supposed to belong to saving faith, 
whether in its act or object), imports nothing but ignorance, atheism, idolatry, great 

falsehood, and gross delusion.' Edinburgh, 1745, 12mo. This little work 

may be prouounrcd the pioneer of the philosophy known as Scottish. Apart from 
its bearing on the passage of Sibbes, it will be found to contain much uncommon 
thought on ' ideas.' equal, to say the least, to the subsequent writings of Reid. 

(n) P. 153. — ' All hung upon his lips, as the phrase is in the gospel.' The refer- 
ence is to Luke iv. 20, which is here given in the original, to confirm Sibbes'a 


remark, — Kal vrv^ag to l3ij3Xlov aToSoug rw vTYj^irr,, ixuCigi xal -xavruv sv rf\ 
cwciyMyri o'l d(p6a?^fJi,oi ^ffav uTivfCrovic, avruj. anvrig = 'intent,' 'earnestly 
fixed,' from tuvm, of. xxii. 50. Acts iii. 12, x. 4, xiv. 9. 

(o) P. 153. — ' In the learned language, the same word signifietli speech and 
reason.' Query — Is the allusion to y.oyog ? 

(p) P. 154. — ' His belly ... .In the Hebrew it is used for the inward affec- 
tions.' See prefatory note to the present treatise of ' Bowels Opened.' 

[q) P. 160. — ' When Pilate sent him to him, [Herod] made nobody of him, as the 
word in the original is.' Sibbcs's reference is to Luke xxiii. 11, rendered in 
authorised version, ' set him at nought,' but literally runs, ' having set him at 
nought,' i.e., etymologically, treated him as if he were nobody, or of no consideration. 
The verb is it,ov'^ivm. 

(r) P. 169. — ' Heavy will the doom be of many that live in the church's bosom, to 

whom it had been better to have been born in America, in Turkey ' The 

juxtaposition of America and Turkey is in curious contrast with the present position 
of America among the Christian nations of the world. Yet with all this idea of the 
' barbarousness ' of America (which was common to Sibbes with his contemporaries), 
the Puritans shrank not from exiling themselves thither when the question of their 
religious liberties came up. Hooker, Davenport, Cotton, Stone, and numerous 
others of Sibbes's friends thus expatriated themselves. 

is) P. 169. — ' They are lilies, being clothed with the white garment,' &c. It is 
pity to destroy the ' line fancies ' of Sibbes on the supposed ' whiteness ' of the lily ; 
but he was thinking of the home, not of the eastern ' lily,' which is purple coloured, 
not ' white.' The ' purple ' gives greater vividness to the Lord's allusion to tho 
imperial robes of Solomon, Mat. vi. 28, 29. 

{t) P. 170. — 'The name of a church in the original is Ecclesia,' i.e., exxXTjSia. 
Cf. 1 Cor. xi. 18, and Robinson and Liddell and Scott, sub voce. 

(m) p. 173. — 'If Christ himself be mine, then all is mine.' The well-known 
hymn, ' If God be mine ' (anonymous), is little more than a paraphrase of these sweet 
words of Sibbes. 

{v) P. 183. — ' As if we were Solifideans.' This sect derived its name from 
solus, alone, and fides, faith. The following quotations will illustrate Sibbes : — 

' Such is first the persuasion of the solifidians, that all religion consists in believing 
aright, that the being of orthodox (as that is opposed to erroneous) opinions is all 
that is on our part required to render our condition safe, and our persons acceptable 
in the sight of God.' — Hammond. Works, i., p. 480. 

' That we may be able to answer the Papists, who charge us with solifidianism, 
as if we were of this opinion, that if a man do but trust in Christ, that is, be but 
confidently persuaded that he will save him, and pardon him, this is suflScient, and, 
consequently, he that is thus persuaded need not take any farther care of his salva- 
tion, but may live as he list.' — Tillotson, iii., ser. 174. G. 




' Tho Spouse ' is one of two sermons published together, but independent, in 1638. 
The general title-page of both is given below [*] ; also the separate title of ' The 
Spouse' [t]. Prefixed is an 'Epistle Dedicatory,' which will be found on the op- 
posite page. ' The Spouse,' though from an earlier chapter of Canticles, as being 
Bubordinate, follows ' Bowels Opened.' G. 

* and t Title-pages — 




By that Faithfull 
and Reverend Divine, 
Richard Sieees, 
D.D. and sometimes Prea- 
cher to the Honourable So- 
ciety of Grayes-Inne ; 
And Master of Katherine 
Hall in Cambridge. 
Printed at London by T. Cotes* and 
are to sold by Andr. Kembe, at his Shop 
at S 3Iargarets Hill in Southwarke, 1638. 
On the back of this title we read, ' Imprimator [sic] Tho. Wykes. Aprill 12. 


S P V S E, 


Earnest desire after 
Christ her Husband 


A Sermon preached on 
Cant. i. Vers. 5. 
By that Faithfull and Reve- 
rend Divine, Richard Sibbes, 
D. D. and sometimes preacher 
to the Honorable Societie 
of Grayes-Inne ; 
And Master of Katherine Hall in 

Psal. 73. 25. 
Whom have I in Heaven but thee ? 
and there is none upon earth that I 
desire besides thee. 

* It may bo noted here that Coates was the publisher of the famous second folio 
of the works of Shakespeare, 1632. — G. 



Sir, — These two sermons were brought unto me for that learned and re* 
ligious divine, -whose name they bear ; and so far as I am able to judge, the 
style and spiritualness of the matter argue no less. Being earnestly re- 
quested to peruse them, I thought fit to commend them to the world under 
youi' name, because I know that you so well afiected the author. My re- 
quest tinto you is, that you would be pleased to accept the dedication of 
them as a testimony of his sincere affection, who labom-s, and prays for 
your good in the best things. 

Your Worship's to be commanded in all Christian service, 

R. T.* 

* These initials R. T., probably represent Robert Town or Towne. In tho ' Non- 
conformisfs Memorial,' (iii. 438) he is stated to have been one of the ' Ejected' of 
16G2, being at the time in Howorth, Yorkshire, the same it is presumable with 
Haworth, since rendered so renowned by the Brontes, and a little earlier by Grim- 
shawe. He had at a former period been Vicar of Ealand, Halifax. He died in 1663, 
aged about TO. Palmer adds, 'It was said that he had imbibed some unsound prin- 
ciples, but he was a man of good character.' Neither Calamy, nor Palmer, nor any of 
the Puritan historians, enumerate writings by him. But at the end of Burrough's 
' Saint's Happiness,' (4to 1660), Nathanael Brook announces the following: 'Ee- 
assertion of grace ? Vindicice Evangelii, or the Vindication of the Gospel ; a reply to Mr 
Anthony Bridges [sic but Burgess is meant] Vindicix Legis, and to Mr Rutherford, 
by Robert Town.'— G. 


CHRIST. him Jciss me ivith the kisses of his mouth : for thy love is better than mne, 

—Cant. I. 2. 

The Holy Gbost is pleased here to condescend to our infirmities ; and, 
that we might help ourselves in our spiritual estate by our bodies, he 
fipeaketh here of heavenly things after an earthly manner, and with a com- 
fortable mystery. As in other places the Holy Ghost sets out the joys of 
heaven by a sweet banquet, so here he sets out the union that we have 
with Christ by the union of the husband with the wife ; and that we might 
the better understand what this union is, he condescends to our weakness, 
that we might see that in a glass which we through our corruptions cannot 
otherwise discern. This book is nothing else but a plain demonstration 
and setting forth of the love of Christ to his church, and of the love of the 
church to Christ ; so familiarly and plainly, that the Jews take great 
scandal at it, and would not have any to read this book till they are come 
to the age of thirty years, lest they thereby should be tempted to incon- 
tinency ; wherein they would seem wiser than God himself. But the Holy 
Ghost is pleased thus by corporeal to set out these spiritual things, which 
are of a higher nature, that by thinking and tasting of the one they might 
be stirred up to translate their affections (which in 3'outhful age are most 
strong) from the heat of natural love to spiritual things, to the things of 
God ; and all those who are spiritually minded (for whom chiefly the 
Scriptures were ^vl'itten) will take special comfort and instruction thereby, 
though others take offence and scandal at it. So here, the union between 
Christ and his spouse is so familiarly and livelily set forth by that union 
which is between the husband and the wife, that, though ungodly men 
might take offence at it, yet the godly may be bettered by it. 

' Let him kiss,' &c. These words are the words of the spouse to Christ, 
containing in them two particulars. 

First, an earnest desire, in these words, ' Let him kiss me with the kisses 
of his mouth.' 

hi which note three parts. 

First, the person desiriiig, the church. 

Secondly, the person desired, Christ. 


Thirdly, the things desired, a familiar kiss of his mouth. 

Secondly, the ground of the desire, fetched from the excellency of the thing 
desired, in these words, ' For thy love is sweeter than wine.' 

From the whole in general observe a spiritual contract between Christ and 
his church. There is a civil contract between man and wife, answerable to 
which the spiritual contract between Christ and his church holds firm re- 

1. That this civil contract may hold, both parties must consent. So it is 
between Christ and his spouse. He was so in love with mankind, that 
he hath taken our nature upon him ; and this his incarnation is the ground 
of all our union with Christ. First, his incarnation is the cause or ground 
of our union with him in grace here ; and, secondly, our union in grace is the 
ground of our union in glory. Now, that we may be a spouse to him, ho 
gives us his Spirit to testify his love to us, that we might give our consent 
to him again, as also that we might be made a fit spouse for him. 

2. Likewise in marriage there is a communicating of all good things. 
So it is here. Christ here in this spiritual contract gives himself, and 
with himself all good things. The Spirit is the church's. His happiness 
is the church's. His graces are the church's. His righteousness is the 
church's. In a word, all his privileges and prerogatives are the church's ; 
as saith the apostle, 'All things are Christ's, and Christ is yours,' 1 Cor. 
iii. 21 ; for all are Christ's, and all that are Christ's are yours by this spiri- 
tual contract. This excellency is set down by the prophet Hosea in his 
second chapter and latter end, where he, speaking of this spiritual contract 
between Christ and his church, saith, Hos. ii. 19, &c. * In that day when 
he shall marry her unto himself in faithfulness, he will make a covenant 
for her with all creatures, with the beasts of the field, the fowls of heaven, 
and all that creepeth upon the earth.' So that upon this contract cometh 
in a league between the church and all the creatures. All that he hath 
done, all that he hath sufi'ered by this contract is made ours. We have 
the benefit of all. 

Obj. But what have we to bestow upon him again ? 
Solution. Nothing at all ; neither portion nor proportion, beauty nor 
riches, but our miserable and base condition that he took upon him. 
Use. This is a xvell-spring of much comfort, and a ground of much duty. 

1. Christ condescended so far unto us, to such a near league, as to take 
■as to be his spouse, who hath all things. "What then can we want when 
we ai*e at the fountain of all things ? We can want no protection, for that 
is the covering of this well. We can want no good thing but he will supply 
it. We have free access unto him, as the wife hath to her husband. Who 
hath free access to the husband if the wife hath not ? So who hath free 
access to Christ but the spouse ? 

Obj. Yea, but we have infirmities. 

Solution. True, indeed ; but shall man bear with his wife because she is 
the 'weaker vessel,' 1 Pet. iii. 7, and shall not Christ much more with his 
spouse ? Herein then is our chiefest comfort, that this union, this con- 
tract, is not for a time, but for ever : ' I have married thee unto myself for 
ever,' Hos. ii. 19. And therefore we shall never want protection nor direc- 
tion, nor anything that is good for us. 

2. Now, the duty on our part is to love him again with a mutual love, 
and obedient love ; to honour him as Sarah did Abraham, by calling him 
Lord, 1 Pet. iii. 6 ; and manifest it by doing what he would have thee to 
do, and by suffering what he would have thee to sufTcr. 


To come to particulars. 

First, of the person desiring, ' Let him kiss me.' 

' Me' is here the speech of the whole church, and so of every particular 
member which is the spouse of Christ. 

Doct. All Christian favours belong to all Christians alike. We have one 
faith, one baptism, one Spirit. As every Christian may say * me,' so may 
the whole church, and every Clnristian as well as the church. All Christian 
privileges belong to all alike. 

Use 1. Herein have comfort then, that whatsoever belongs to the church 
in general, belongs to every member in particular. 

Use 2. This teacheth us to reason from one spiritual thing to another, 
as thus Abraham believed, ' and it was counted to him for righteousness,' 
Rom. iv. 22 ; and therefore if I believe I shall be counted righteous. 
David sinned, and David repented and found mercy ; and therefore if I, 
&c. So all privileges belong alike to all Christians. Every Christian soul 
is the spouse of Christ as the whole church is. Therefore St Paul pro- 
pounds himself an example to all that would believe in Christ. ' God had 
mercy on him,' 1 Tim. i. 16, and therefore he encourageth all to come unto 
Christ, by this, that he will have mercy on thee, as he had on him. What- 
soever is promised to the whole church, that apply to thy own soul in par- 
ticular ; and whatsoever is required of the whole church, that is required of 
thee in particular by Christ, if thou be a member. But though in spiritual 
favours all have a like portion, yet it is not so in outward things ; but some 
are rich, some are poor, some honourable, some base. But in the best 
privileges and best gifts there is an equal extending to all alike, to the poor 
Christian as well as to the rich, to him that is base in the eye of the world, 
as well as to him that is honourable. 

Secondly, of the person desired, ' Let him.' 

Many make love to the spouse ; as the devil, the world, and the flesh. 
The devil and carnal persons make love to the soul, to draw her away from 
Christ, but she looks to Christ still. ' Let him kiss me.' She goes not as 
the papists do, to Peter and Paul, but to Christ and to Christ alone. He 
* is my well-beloved, and I am his,' Cant. ii. 16 ; he is my peculiar, and I 
am his peculiar ; none have ' I in heaven but him, and there is none that I 
desire in comparison of him,' Ps. Ixxiii. 25. He hath singled out me, and 
I have singled out him, ' Let him kiss me.' 

Thirdly, of the thing desired, ' Let him kiss me,' &c. 

The thing desired, it is a kiss. Thei'e are divers sorts of kisses spoken 
of in Scripture. There is a kiss of superiors to inferiors, and of inferiors 
to superiors. There is an holy kiss, Rom. xvi. 16, 1 Cor. xvi. 20, and an 
hypocritical kiss, as Joab to Ainasa, 2 Sam. xx. 9, and as Judas to Christ, 
Mat. xxvi. 49. There are kisses of love ; so Jonathan kissed David, 
1 Sam. XX. 41. There are kisses also of subjection, as. Kiss ye the Son, 
&c., Ps. ii. 12. But here is the kiss of a superior to an inferior. ' Let 
him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,' that is, let him shew me further 
testimony of his love by his presence ; let me enjoy further communion 
with him still ; let him further assure me of his love. Consider what the 
church meant ; howsoever she had interest in this spiritual contract and 
covenant at the first, yet the church, according to the different degrees of 
time, had different degrees of desires to be further and further as- 
sured of his love. As in Solomon's time, so before from the beginning, 
there was a desire in the chui'ch of the kisses of Christ, that is, that 
lie would come in our nature, and that he would manifest by littlo 


and little, clearer and clearer, his coming in the flesh ; and accordingly 
he did by degrees reveal himself, as first in paradise, ' The seed of the 
woman shall break the serpent's head, Gen. iii. 15 ; then to Abraham, ' In 
thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed,' Gen. xii. 3. After 
that to one tribe. Gen. xlix. 10, the tribe of Judah, Heb. vii. 14; then to 
one family of that tribe, the house of David, Luke i. 27 ; then a virgin 
shall conceive, Isa. vii. 14 ; and after that pointed out by the finger of 
iTohn the Baptist, ' Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of 
the world,' John i. 29. So you see how Christ did reveal himself more and 
more by degrees unto his church. Answerable to these degrees were the 
desires of the church for the coming of Christ, as the prophet Isaiah saith, 
' Come down and break the heavens,' Isa. Ixiv. 1. ; and then prophesied of 
by those that waited for the consummation of Israel. So that before Christ 
came in the flesh the church had a longing desire after his incarnation, as 
here, ' Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.' But that is not all. 
For she knew this should not be till the last days, and therefore desireth 
some further means of acquaintance and knowledge of him, desiring that ho 
would manifest himself more and more by his word, by his grace, and by 
his Spirit ; and therefore as then the desire of the church was for the 
coming of Christ, so now that which Christians de.^ire and long after is, to 
go to him that they may remain with him in glory. They love his appear- 
ance, but because this shall not be yet, though the church be still in ex- 
pectation of it, therefore she desireth to hear his words, and to have him 
kiss her with his mouth in his word. But this is not all ; but let me find 
his Spirit now walking with me here, and further, ' kiss me with his mouth,' 
by increasing his graces in me, manifesting his love unto me more and more. 
This is the desire of the church, and of every Christian soul, that Christ 
would thus kiss her ; that he would reveal himself every day more and 
more unto her, in his word, in his sacraments, by his Spirit, by his graces, 
by increasing of them. This is the desire of the church and of every 
Christian soul, that Christ would thus ' kiss her with the kisses of his 

Now we are come to the ground of this desu-e, taken from the excellency 
of the love of Christ, which is here said by experience of the whole chui'ch, 
and of every Christian soul, to be ' sweeter than wine.' 

From hence we note two things. 

Voct. 1. First, that every Christian soul and the s])ouse in general hath a 
siceet taste of tJie love of Christ even in tJiis life. 

Doct. 2. That after tJiis contract and taste of this love, she hath ever spring- 
ing up in her a further desire of the increase and manifestation of it. 

Doct. 1. For the first, as after the contract there is a more manifestation 
of love than was before, yet not a full manifestation of love tiU after the 
marriage, so Christ, though he do give his spouse a taste of his love here, 
and sends love-tokens unto her, some graces whereby his love is made more 
manifest than before (as Isaac sent to Rcbekah some jewels and bracelets to 
manifest his love to her. Gen. xxiv. 53) ; yet his love is not fully mani- 
fested in this Hfe, but is kept until the great solemnity. Christ cannot 
delight in the spouse unless she be decked with his graces, and therefore he 
gives her of them ; and these are not only a taste of his favours, but the 
Iruit of his favours. 

The reasons are diverse. 

licason 1. The first reason is to solace their lomj absence, that they may 
not faint, but having a sweet taste of his love here, may stay their heart* 


thereupon until the day wherein he wdll fully manifest his love unto them. 
The Lord seeth his children are subject to be oppressed with heaviness here; 
therefore he gives them a taste of his love here, that thereby they might bo 
comforted, when nothing else can. 

Ficason 2. The Lord gives his children a sweet taste of his love heroj 
tJiat when they hy weakness and frailty Jail away and lose their first love, xchen 
by their former taste they might return and recover themselves again, con- 
sidering how sweet, and how strong that love was, that once they had en- 
joyed from Christ, and hereby they might say with the church, ' I will 
return,' &c., Hos. ii. 7. 

Reason 8. The third reason is, because the manifestation of this his love 
cloth ivonderfidly strengthen a CJiristian to go lightly through the heaviest afflic- 
tion ; for when Christ assures a Christian of his love, then affliction will 
seem grievous, but he will through all, he will suffer whatsoever shall befall 
him for Christ's sake with joy. 

Beason 4. Lastly, Christ gives his church, and so every Christian, a taste 
of his love in this life, because he knows we have many temptations in tJiis 
icorld iiJiich are ready to steal away our affections, as carnal pleasures, riches, 
honours, and the like. Now that these might not draw away our affections, 
he gives us a taste of his love, which is better than all other things, ' which 
is sweeter than wine,' that by this our affections might be preserved chaste 
to him. So then Christ gives us, his spouse, a sweet taste of his love in this 
hfe, that afflictions on our left hand might not too much press us down and 
discomfort us ; nor the pleasm-es and delights on our right hand steal away 
our hearts from him. 

Use. The use is to teach us to adtnire-'' at the goodness of God in this, 
that he is pleased so to provide for us, as to keep us from being too much 
overcome with heaviness through the multitude of temptations and afflictions 
which in this life we are subject unto ; expelling the bitterness thereof with 
the sweetness of his love, thereby preserving our affections chaste unto him- 

Now we come to the second doctrine. 

Doct. 2. That the church (and so every Christian) after this contract and 
taste of Christ's love, hath evermore springing vp> in them an insatiable desire 
for a further taste and assurance of his love. 

The reasons of this doctrine are two. 

Jxeason 1. The first reason is taken from the nature of true love, which is 
never satisfied. And hence it is, that though Christ give his spouse a taste 
•of his love in his word, by sending his ambassi^dors, his ministers with his 
love-letters, the gospel of peace, giving therein a taste of his love, as also 
by his Spirit, by his sacraments, by his gi'aces ; yet all this will not satisfy 
her soul, but Christ having once manifested his love unto her, there is a con- 
tinual desire to have a further taste and assurance of it. 

Reason 2. The second reason is drawn from Christ's infinite riches, in- 
finite in his glory, in his power, in his beauty, in his pleasures, and joys, 
and the like. He hath all things, ' All power is given him in heaven and 
in earth,' Mat. xxviii. 18 ; every way infinite in himself; and hence it is, 
that the spouse hath an infinite desire to have a further taste of his love, 
and a nearer communion with him. So you see whether we regard the 
natiure of love, which is never satisfied, or whether v/e consider his infinite 
riches, both manifest this truth, that there is an insatiable desire in a Chris- 
tian, to be further filled with, and more fully assured of, the love of Christ. 
* That is, ' wonder.' — G. 


Where grace is, there is a further desire of growth in grace. It is an higher 
degree of love to desire the enjoying of the presence of Christ, than to enjoy 
heaven itself ; but this ^^'ill not be yet. 

Use 1. Therefore let us try our love by our labouring for that sight of Christ 
which tee may have; as in his ordinances where ho manifests himself in a 
special manner. Is it the great grief of thy soul that thou art shut from 
the presence of Christ in his ordinances, from the congregation of the saints, 
where he by familiar lasses useth to manifest his love to thee more and more ? 
I can but wonder that some persons dare to take upon them the name of 
Christianity, and yet think that men be too holy. These want this cha- 
racter of a Chi-istian, viz., a further desire of the manifestation of Christ's 
love. Many of them neglect the ordinances of God, or if they do come 
there, they desire not further inward kisses of his love, but content them- 
selves with the outward. 

AVhen the Spirit should witness and seal up the love, the love of Christ 
to their souls, by an inward kiss, they only content themselves with the out- 
ward, the bare hearing of the word. But where this further desire of 
famiUarity with Christ is not, there is but a barren soul, there is no taste of 
Christ's love. If there were a taste, there would be a further desire of 
growth in that love. There are some that make a profession of religion, as 
many that marry to cloak their adultery ; so these profess Christ, to cover their 
strong covetousness and strong faults, that they may have the more strength 
to commit sin. We must not content ourselves without these outward 
kisses, but give, as the outward man, so sacrifice the inward man, Rom. 
vii. 22, the soul unto God. Let those that find, after this trial, these de- 
sires springing up in them, comfort themselves in this, that they are Christ's, 
and Christ shall manifest his love more and more unto them. For God 
hath promised to grant the desires of the righteous, Ps. xxxvii. 4. Hast 
thou then a longing desii*e to have a fm-ther taste of the love of Christ ? 
Use the means, and then be sure that Christ will manifest his love more and 
more unto thy soul. 

Use 2. The second use is for exhortation and spiritual direction hoic ice 
shall come to a further assurance, sign, and fruit of Christ's love. K we de- 
sire this, we must labour to have, first, chaste judgments, and secondly, 
chaste affections. A chaste judgment from error, heresy, and schism ; and 
our afi'ections chaste from the world, from pleasures and the like. For 
Christ is wonderful jealous of om* judgments, and of our love. Therefore 
Paul desires to present the Corinths* a * pui-e virgin unto Christ,' 2 Cor. 
xi. 2. So then, as we must affectf goodness, so v^e must profess truth. We 
must have chaste judgments as well as chaste afi'ections. The spouse of 
Christ, as she is pure in aflections, so she is pure in judgment ; she hears 
his voice and follows him. "Whatsoever comes not from the word, receive 
it not, but reject it. Thus much for the judgment. 

So likewise labour for chaste affections. Christ will not have us to divide 
our afi'ections ; partly for him, and partly for the world, or partly to plea- 
sures, and partly to him. He will not have it so. He will have the whole 
heart and whole afi'ections, or he will have neither heart nor afi'ections. If 
we give our hearts to the world or to the pleasures of the world, the love of 
which is enmity with God, James iv. 4, then have we an adulterous heart ; 
which to do is a double sin. As for a wife to commit whoredom is a double 
sin, there is adultery and breach of marriage covenant ; so to embrace 
the world after we are contracted unto Christ, is spiritual whoredom and a 
* That is, 'Corinthians.' — G. t Tliat is, 'love.' — G. 

206 >HE SPOUSE. 

breach of oxu covenant in spiritual contract. Take heed of worldly-minded 
ness, which will glue thy affections to the earth, and will not suffer them to 
be lifted up to Christ. Take heed of the pleasures of the world, lest they 
drown thy soul, as they do the souls of many that profess themselves to be 

Use 3. Thirdly, if we will grow in the assurance of the love of Christ, 
and have more famUiar kisses of his mouth, then labour to get an humble 
heart, by searching out our own unworthiness in respect of what we are, or 
were by nature. Indeed, we may disparage our credits by abasing our- 
selves in respect of men, but never can we be too much humbled to our 
Saviour in acknowledging ourselves unworthy of all that we have. There 
is no danger in thus debasing ourselves to our Saviour, nay, it is for our 
honour with God. For those that thus honour him he will honour with 
his graces ; for he giveth grace to the humble, and with such a spirit he 
delights to dwell, Isa. Ixvi. 2. Let us with humility, then, acknowledge 
all to be from his free grace, and with Jacob, acknowledge ourselves to be 
less than the least of his mercies. Gen. xxxii. 10. 

Use 4. Fourthly, if we will grow in the assurance of the love of Christ, 
we must give Christ no ijcace. Take no nay of him, till he hath given thee 
the kisses of his love. Many times he delays the manifesting of his love — 
what though ? Yet wait his pleasure, for he hath waited long upon thee. 
We see Mary Magdalen, what ado she made when she could not find 
Christ. He having manifested himself unto her at the beginning, at length 
he calleth her by her name, demanding for what she wept, and whom she 
sought, Luke vii. 47. Give him no rest, take no denial, till he answer 
thee, for he will do it. What did the woman of Canaan ? She gave him 
no rest till he did apply himself unto her, Mat. xv. 22, seq. Jacob wrestled 
with God, and would not let him go, till he had assured him of his love 
and favour. Gen. xxxii. 24, scq. He hath promised to grant the desires of 
the righteous, Ps. xxxvii. 4. Hath he given us such strong desires after 
him ? Then continue constant importuning him by prayer, and he cannot 
stand out with us long ; he cannot deny us some further assurance of his 

Use 5. Again, take everything to thine advantage, as his former love and 
favour, his power, fidelity, and stability. Take advantage from these, and 
plead for thy desires, as the woman of Canaan. Christ accounts her a dog. 
Mat. XV. 26. I am indeed so, saith she. She taketh advantage of his 
words, and thereby pleads for her desire. As the servants of Benhadad 
catch at words of comfort from Ahab, 1 Kings xx. 33 ; so continually take 
advantage from your o^vn experience. He hath been thus and thus good 
unto thee, these and these means thou hast enjoyed, and thus and thus hath 
it wrought for my good ; I will therefore follow him now until he assure me 
of his love in a further degree. 

Use 6. Again, consider thou must be modest in thy desires of this kind. 
Desire no great matter at the first. I mean, not full assurance of the love of 
Christ at the first ; but observe the degrees of his kisses, and manifestation 
of his love. The thief on the cross desired but to be remembered of Christ 
when he came into his kingdom, Luke xxiii. 42, — no great matter ; so do 
thou desire any taste of his love, though never so little. Indeed, so the 
children of God do. First they desire the pardon of their sins, and having 
obtained this, they grow more and more in desiring the graces of the Spirit, 
as seals to assure them of the pardon of them, and of his love unto them, 
and nearer communion with him. 


Obj. But this communion is not alway felt. 

Sol, 1. I answer, if Christ be strange to us, it is from ourselves, not from 
Christ; for he is all love. It is either because our loose hearts run after 
some carnal contents ; and then no marvel though Christ shew himself 
strange unto us, and we go mourning all the day long, without a sense of 
his love. 

Or else, 2, It is when we will not seek for his kisses, a further taste of his 
love, as we should, in his ordinances, nor exercise those graces that we 
have as wo should, in attending upon the ordinance, resting by faith upon 
God's promise for a blessing. 

Or else, 3, We are so negligent, that we do not stir up those graces of God 
in us by private duties. 

Or else, 4, We join ourselves to evil company, or to persons led with an 
evil spirit. These are the causes why Christ is strange to us. 

Or else, 5, It is to exercise and try our faith, and to let us see ourselves 
and our own weakness. Thus he left Peter. Otherwise, it is Christ, his 
nature, to manifest himself and his love by famihar kisses of his mouth. 
Search into your hearts, and you shall find that these and such like are the 
causes why Cbrist is strange unto you, and why you are senseless* of your 
communion with him. 

Use 7. Consider, again, when it is, at what time is it that ice have the 
sweetest kisses, and are most refreshed ivith Christ's love. Is it not when we 
put oui' strength to good means, as when we strive with God in prayer, and 
labour in humility rightly, and profitably to use all his ordinances ? Mark 
these two well as a means to preserve and increase the assurance of Christ's 
love in you. 

First, how you fall into deadness, and the causes of it. 

Secondly, how you come to have most communion ivith Christ, and at what 
time, and after what performances. Canst thou say, I was thus and thus 
dead and senseless of Christ's love, but now I am thus and thus comforted 
and refreshed ? either when thou deniedst anything to thyself, which thy 
heart stood strongly for, or when thou hadst been most careful in holy 
duties. If we deny ourselves in anything, that our hearts stand strongly 
for, because it hinders us in holy courses, God will be sure to recompense 
us in spiritual things abundantly, yea, and in temporal things many 

Use 8. Consider, again,' when I was afflicted and had none else to comfoH 
me, tlien the Lord was most sweet unto me, then he refreshed my soul with a 
sense of his love. 

These may help us much in getting a further assurance of Christ's love. 
Be stirred up, then, to desire to be where Christ is, and to have the kisses 
of his love in his ordinances, as further testimonies of his favour, and 
never rest from having a desire to increase in grace and communion with 
Christ. So shall you never want assurance of a good estate, nor comfort 
in any good estate. Cast such a man into a dungeon, he hath paradise 
there. Why ? Because Christ comes to him. And if we have this com- 
munion with Christ, then though we are compassed about with death, yet 
it cannot afiright us, because the great God is with us, Ps. xxiii. 4. Do 
■with such a one what you will ; cast him into hell, if it were possible ; he 
having a sweet commimion with Christ, will be joyful still ; and the more 
sense we have of the love of Christ, the less we sliall regard the pleasures 
or riches of the world. For what joy can be compared with this, that 
* That is, ' unconscious of,' ' without assurance of.' — O. 


the soul hath communion with Christ ? All the world is nothing in com- 

Now, then, seeing you cannot requite this love of Christ again, yet shew 
your love to Christ in manifesting love to his members, to the poor, to such 
poor especially as have the church of God in their families. As the woman 
poured oil on the head of Christ, so shall we do well to pour some oil upon 
the feet of Christ. That which we would do to him, if he were here, let 
us do to his members, that thereby we may further om* communion with 



VOL. n. 



The ' Breathing after God ' is placed immediately after the sermons from Canticles, 
as being not only on the same subject, though from a different portion cf Holy Scripture, 
but also as partaking very much of their spirit. The original title-page is given 
below.* Prefixed is the miniatm-e portrait, by Marshall, found in several of Sibbes's 
smaller volumes. G 

• Title-page: — 








The late Reverent [sic'] and worthy 

Divine Richard Bibs, 

Doctor in Divinity, Master of 

Katherinc Hall in Cambridge, and 

sometime Preacher of 


Psal. 42. 1. 

As the Hart panteth after the water brooks; 

so panteih my soul after thee, God. 

Lam. 3. 56. 
Hide not thine eare at my breathing. 


Printed by John Dawson for R. M. 

and are to he sold by Thomas Slater, 

at the Swan in Duck-lane. 1639. 


Man in this world, especially since his defection frona God, standing at a 
distance from his happiness in respect of full possession, it is not the 
least part of his bliss to bo happy in expectation. Happiness being by 
all men desii'ablc, the desire of it is naturally engrafted in every man ; and 
is the centre of all the searchings of his heart and turnings of his life. But 
the most of men, like the men of Sodom, grope and find not the right door, 
Gen. xix. 11 . Only to a true Christian, by a supernatural light, is discovered 
both the right object, and the right way to feUcity. Upon this discover}', 
finding himself, while he is here, a stranger to his happiness, he desires 
to take leave of this sublunary condition, that he may enjoy him who is 
' the desire of all nations,' Hag. ii. 7. 

Now although God cast common blessings promiscuously upon good and 
bad ; yet he holds his best favours at a distance, as parents do cherries 
or apples from their children, to whet theii* appetites the more after 
them. And indeed the best perfection of a Christian in his military* con- 
dition, is, in desire and expectation ; and it is enough to him that ; for 
that he hath God's acceptation, who knowing whereof we are made, and how 
unable to hold weight in the ' balance of the sanctuary,' Dan. v. 27, takes 
his best gold with grains of allowance. 

The soul of man is hke a cipher, which is valued by that which is set 
before it. If it weary itself in the desire of earthly things, hke the silk-wonn, 
it finisheth its work with its own destruction. But if on things above, 
when this earthly tabernacle is turned to ashes, there shall result a 
glorious phcenix for immortality. 

There are no characters better distinguishing a Christian, than those 
that are inward (hypocrisy like sale-work, may make a fair show outward ; 
an h}-pocrite may perform external works, but cannot dissemble inward 
afiections), and amongst them, none better discovers his temper, than 
the beating of the pulse of his desires, which this worthy author (who de- 
parted not without being much desiredf and no less lamented) hath most 
livelily set forth in the ensuing treatise ; which a Christian, holding as 
a glass before him, may discern whether he have life or no by these 

* That is ' militant.'— Q. t That is, ' longed after.'— Q 


For the object here propounded, what more desirable than the chief 
good ? For the place, where can it be more desired, than in his house, 
where his presence is manifested ? What better end to be in that house, 
than to behold God in the ' beauty of holiness ? ' Ps, xxix. 2. What 
term of happiness better than ' for ever' ? This was the desire of the holy 
prophet David, and that it may be thy desire, is the desire of 

Thy Christian friend, 

H. I.* 

* These initials are in all probability those of John Hill, reversed, intentionally 
or by a misprint. See note on p. 251. — G. 


One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek after ; that I may dvoeU 
in the house of the Lord all the days of my life ; to behold the beauty of the 
Lord, and to inquire in his temple. — Ps. XXVII. 4. 

This psalm is partly a prophecy. It was made after some great deliveranco 
out of some gi-eat trouble. The blessed prophet David, having experience 
of God's goodness suitable to the trouble he was in, in the first part of this 
excellent psalm he shews — 

I. His comfort; and, II. His courage; and. III. His care. 

I. His comfort. It was altogether in the Lord, whom he sets out in all 
the beauties and excellency of speech he can. He propounds the Lord to 
him in borrowed terms. ' The Lord is my light and my salvation, the 
strength of my life,' Ps. xxvii. 1. So he fetcheth comfort from God, the 
spring of comfort, ' the Father of all comfort,' 2 Cor. i. 4. He labours to 
present God to him in the sweetest manner that may be. He opposeth 
him to every difficulty and distress. In darkness, he is ' my light ;' in 
danger, he is ' my salvation ;' in weakness, he is * my strength ;' in all my 
afflictions and straits, he is the ' strength of my life.' Here is the art of 
faith in all perplexities whatsoever, to be able to set somewhat in God 
against every malady in om-selves. And this is not simply set out, but 
likewise with a holy insultation.* * The Lord is my light and salvation; 
whom shall I fear ? ' Ps. xxvii. 1. It is a question proceeding from a holy 
insultation, and daring of all other things. ' The Lord is the strength of 
my life ; of whom shall I bo afi-aid ? ' That is one branch of his comfort. 

The second branch and ground of his comfort is, 2. The goodness of God 
in the ruin and destruction of his enemies. ' AVheu the wicked, even mine 
enemies and foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and 
fell,' Ps. xxvii. 2. He describes his enemies by their malice, and by their 

[1.] His enemies were cruel enemies, blood-suckers, caters of flesh. We 

call them cannibals. As indeed nicu that have not gi-ace, if they have 

greatness, and be opposed, their greatness is inaccessible ; one man is a 

devil to another. The Scripture calls them ' wolves, that leave nothing 

* That is, ' defiance,'— G. 


till morning,' Zeph. iii. 3. As the gi'eat fishes eat up the little ones, so 
gi-eat men they make no more conscience of eating up other men, than of 
eating bread ; they make no more bones of overthrowing men and undoing 
them, than of eating bread. ' They eat up my people as they eat bread,' 
Ps. xxvii. 2. 

[2.] But notwithstanding their cruelty, they were overthrown. Saith 
David, ' when my foes came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled 
and fell.' For, indeed, God's children, when they are delivered, it is 
usually with the confusion of their enemies. God doth two things at once, 
because the special grievance of God's children it is from inward and out- 
ward enemies. He seldom or never deUvers them but with the confusion 
of their enemies. So he sets down his own comfort in the Lord, by the 
confusion of his enemies. This will be most apparent at the day of judg- 
ment, when Satan, and all that are led by his spirit, all the malignant 
church, shall be sent to their own place, and the church shall be for ever 
free from all kind of enemies. When the church is most free, then the 
enemies of the church are nearest to destruction ; like a pair of balances, 
when they are up at the one end, they are down at the other. So when it 
is up with the church, down go the enemies. So here are the two branches 
of his comfort. 

II. Now his courage for the time to come, that is, in the third verse. 
' Though an host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.' He puts 
the case of the greatest danger that can be. Though an host of men 
should encompass me, ' my heart shall not fear ; though war rise against 
me, in this I will be confident.' Here is great courage for the time to 
come. Experience breeds hope and confidence. David was not so courageous 
a man of himself; but upon experience of God's former comfort and assist- 
ance, his faith brake as fire out of the smoke, or as the sun out of a cloud. 
Though I was in such and such perplexities, yet for the time to come I 
have such confidence and experience of God's goodness, that I will not fear. 
He that seeth God by a spirit of faith in his greatness and power, he sees 
all other things below as nothing. Therefore he saith here, he cares not 
for the time to come for any opposition ; no, not of an army. ' If God 
be with us, who can be against us?' Kom. viii. 31. He saw God in his 
power ; and then, looking from God to the creature, alas ! who was he ? 
As Micah, when he had seen God sitting upon his throne ; what was Ahab 
to him, when he had seen God once '? So when the prophet David had 
seen God once, then ' though an host encamp against me, I will not fear,' 
&c. Thus you have his comfort in the double branch of it ; his courage, 
also, and his confidence for the time to come. 

ni. What is his care ? That is the next. I will not analyse the psalm 
farther than the text. After his comfort in the Lord, and in the confusion 
of his enemies, and his courage for the time to come, he sets down his care, 
' One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I 
may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,' &c. This was 
his care. He had so sweet experience of the goodness and power of God, 
being light, and salvation and strength to him in confounding his enemies, 
that he studied with himself how to be thankful to God; and this he 
thought fittest in the open great congregation, in the chui-ch of God, among 
many others. Therefore he saith, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord, 
and that will I seek after still, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
all the days of my life.'' 

Now, in the words of the text that I have read, there is contained the 


holy prophet's care and desire, set down first in general, ' One thing have I 
desired of the Lord, and that I will seek after.' 

And then a specification of that desire he specifies. What is that one 
thing he desired ? That ' I may dwell in the house of the Lord,' with the 
circumstance of time, ' all the days of my life.' 

Now, after the desire in general, set out here by the object in general, 
the transcendent object, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord,' and like- 
wise by the frequency and fervency of the desu'C, ' I will seek after it still.' 
I have desired it, and I will not cease. So my desire, it shall not be a 
flash soon kindled, and soon put out. No ; but ' one thing have I desired 
of the Lord, and that I will seek still.' I will not be quiet till my desire be 
accomplished. There is the general deshe, and the degi-ees of it. 

The particular is, ' that I may dwell in the house of the Lord.' 

Then the grounds and ends of the particular desire of dwelling in the 
* house of the Lord,' because it is ' the house of God.' There is a strong 
argument to move him to dwell in the house of God. It is good dwelling 
where God dwells, where his angels dwell, and where his Spirit dwells, ' in 
the house of the Lord.' There is one argument that moved him, ' I desire 
to dwell there,' because it is the house of God, which is set out by the ex- 
tent of time, that ' I may dwell in the house of God all the days of my life,' 
till I be housed in heaven, where I shall need none of these ordinances that 
I stand in need of in this world. ' I desu'e to dwell in the house of the 
Lord all the days of my life.' 

Then the second end is, ' To behold the beauty of God.' That was one 
end of his desire, to dwell in the house of God ; not to feed his eyes with 
speculations and goodly sights (as indeed there were in the tabernacle 
goodly things to be seen). No ; he had a more spiritual sight than that. 
He saw the inward spiritual beauty of those spiritual things. The other 
were but outward things, as the apostle calls them. I desire to dwell in 
the house of the Lord, 'to behold the beauty of the Lord,' the inward 
beauty of the Lord especially. 

And then the third end of his desire is, ' that I may inquu-e in his 
temple.' He desired to dwell in the house of God, because it w\as the 
house of God, and to see the beauty of God, the sweet, alluring beauty of 
God, that appeared in his ordinances ; and then his desire was to dwell in 
the house of God, that he might inquire more and more of the meaning of 
God still, because there is an unfathomed bottom, and an endless depth of 
excellency in divine things, that the more we know, the more we may, and 
the more we seek, the more we may seek. They are beyond om- capacity; 
they do not only satisfy, but transcend it. Therefore, he desires still fur- 
ther and further to wade deeper into these things, ' to inquire in God's 
temple.' Thus ye see the state of the verse. There is a general desire 
propounded. ' One thing have I desu*ed of the Lord, and that will I seek 

And then the desire specified, ' to dwell in the house of the Lord, and to 
see the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.' These be the 
three ends. 

' One thing have I desired of the Lord,' &c. 

To speak first of this desire generally propounded, * One thing have I 
desired,' &c. 

And then of the increase of it, in that he saith, ' I will seek after it still.' 
He desired it, and he would seek more and more after it. 

In the desire, consider — 


First, the object, ' one thing.' 

And then the desire or seeking itself. 

First, the object, ' one thing.' 

Quest. Was there hut one thing for holy David to make the ohject of his 
desire ? Was there but one thing needful ? Alas ! this poor life of ours, 
it is a life of necessities. How many things are needful for our bodies ? 
How many things are needful for the decency of our condition ? How 
many things need we for our souls ? It is a life of necessities. How^ 
then, doth he say, ' One thing have I desired ? ' 

A71S. Yes. His meaning is, comparatively, I seek for other things in 
their order and rank, and as they may stand with the main ; but, indeed, 
one thing principally. All the rest will follow. ' Seek ye first the king- 
dom of God, and all the rest will be cast on you,' Mat. vi. 33. The best 
way to have all other things, is to seek one thing in the first place. There- 
fore, in heavenly wisdom he saith, I desire unum unice ; one thing after an 
entire manner. That I desire more than all things else. 

Hence we ma}'- see that. 

There is a difference of degrees of things. God hath established in the 
world degrees of things. There are some good and some ill by his per- 
mission ; and of good, there are some that are greater goods, and some less. 
There are spiritual goods, and outward goods ; and of spiritual good, there 
are some that are means leading to that which is spiritually good, and some- 
that are spiritual good things in their o^\^l essence and nature. The lead- 
ing preparing things are the means of salvation, the word, and sacraments, 
and being in the visible church. The true spiritual good, the good that 
we get by these things, faith and love, and spiritual inward strength. Now 
that there is degrees of things, the prophet here insinuates when he saith, 
* One thing have I desired ;' that is, of all these variety of things, he desired 
the best, that includes all in it. God, to exercise the wisdom that he hath 
given to man, hath planted a difierence in the creatures, and hath given a 
faculty to man to make a right choice in those differences ; and then man 
makes a right choice when he chooseth as God chooseth. Now, God 
makes choice of spiritual things to be the best things, and them he gives to 
his best friends. He knows they will make us good, and supply all out- 
ward wants whatsoever, and sanctify all estates and conditions to us, and 
they are eternal, suitable to the spiritual nature of our souls. God knows 
this very well. Therefore, God hath set spiritual things, as the one only 
thing ; and so the soul, when it is made spiritual, and hath the image of 
God upon it, it chooseth as God chooseth. 

* One thing have I desired.' 

Quest. But here it may be asked, why doth he say, ' one thing ? ' He 
desired not only to live near the tabernacle, but to hear and see, to have 
the word read, and he desired thereupon grace, and then nearer communion 
with God by grace, to have more communion here, and fuller communion 
in heaven. Here is more than one thing. 

Ans. I answer, it is all one. As a chain that hath many links, yet it ia 
but one chain ; so all these are but one. ' I desire one thing.' What is 
that ? To live in the church of God, to enjoy the ordinances of God, and 
they will draw on faith and fear, &c. The Spiiit accompanying the ordi- 
nances, it will be a spuit of faith, and repentance, and grace ; and by those 
graces of faith, and the rest that accompany the ordinances, I shall have 
nearer communion with God here, and eternal and everlasting communioo 


with God in heaven ; and all these are but one, because they are all links 
of one chain. Therefore, when he saith, ' One thing have I desired,' ho 
means that one thing that will draw on all other. 

That is the scope of a gracious heart, when it attends upon the means of 
salvation, and lives in the church ; not to hear that it may hear, and them 
an end, and to read that it may i-ead, to perform it as a task, and all is 
done ; but to have the work of the Spirit together with it, to have the 
ministry of the Spirit in the gospel, and the Spirit to increase faith, and 
faith to increase all other gi'aces, and so by grace to grow into nearer com- 
munion with God in Christ. That is the scope of every good hearer. 
Therefore, he speaks to purpose when he saith, ' One thing have I deshed.' 

But to speak a Httle more of the object, why doth he say, ' One thing ?' 

First, it is from the nature of God. We must have the whole bent and 
sway of our souls to him. He will have no halting. The devil is content 
with half, if we will sin, because then he is sure of all ; but God will havo 
the whole heart. ' My son, give me thy whole heart,' Prov. xxiii. 26 ; and 
' Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,' Luke 
X. 27. The bent and sway of the soul must be that way ; for it is the 
natui'e of excellent things, except we desire them in the chief place, they 
take state upon them.-'.= God takes state upon him in this case. He will 
not have us serve him and Mammon, Mat. vi. 24. He will not have the 
heart divided. 

Second. Then again, it is from the nature of the soul. Therefore, he saith, 
' One thing.' It is the nature of the soul, when it is upon many things, it 
can do nothing well. Therefore, that I may be religious to purpose, ' One 
thing have I desired.' A stream cut into many channels runs weakly, and 
is unfit to carry anything. Babylon was so taken. They cut the river into 
many channels, and then he that took it easily passed over them, (a) 
When the soul is divided into many channels, to many things, that it looks 
after this thing and that thing, and that with expense and intention of care 
and endeavour, alas ! where is the desu'e of one thing necessary all the 
while ? For the soul cannot go with that strength as it should, except it 
mind one thing. The soul of man is a finite thing. Therefore, except it 
gather its strength, as a stream, that riseth of many particular lesser rivers, 
which makes it run stronger ; so the soul it cannot desire one thing as it 
should, except it bring all other petty streams to it, and make that the main 
desire, to be saved in another world, and to have communion and fellowship 
with God in Christ Jesus, by the Spirit of grace in this world, in tho uso 
of the means. Unless this be the main care, the soul takes no good when 
it is so much set on other things. 

Then, thirdly, he sets down this ' one thing,' to ' dwell in the house of 
God,' to grow in grace there * as a cedar,' to be a ' tree planted there,' 
from the very nature of grace, which is to unite things to the main. The 
Spirit of grace sets before the eye of the soul heavenly spiritual things in 
their greatness and excellency ; and the Spirit of grace, seeing there are 
many useful things in this world, it hath an uniting, knitting, subordinating 
power, to rank all things so as they may agree to and help the main. Grace 
confines the soul to one thing. Man, after his fall, ' sought out many in- 
ventions,' Eccles. vii. 29, saith the wise man. He was not content with 
his condition when he stood, but ' he sought out many inventions. When 
man falls to the creature, he knows not where to stay. No creature can 
afford a stay and rest for the soul long. The soul is never quiet till it come 
* That is, ' are offcudcd.' — G. 


to God again,* and that is the one thing the soul desireth. The soul being 
san-ctified by the Spirit of God, it subordinates all things to this one thing. 
David desired many things besides this one thing, but not in that degree, 
but as they might stand with the desire of this one thing necessary, Grace 
subordinates and ranks all things so as that the best things have the pre- 
eminence. Therefore, he might well say, ' one thing,' from the disposition 
that grace hath to rank all things to one. It is a promise in the covenant 
of grace. Saith God, ' I will give you one heart,' Jer. xxxii. 39. As soon 
as a man becomes a Christian, he hath one heart.' His heart before was 
divided. There was variety of objects it was set upon ; God had the least 
piece. The flesh had a piece, and this delight and that delight had apiece; 
but saith God, ' I will give you one heart,' that is, a heart uniting itself in 
desire to the best things, and regulating all things, so as all shall be but 
one, that a man shall ' use the world as though he used it not,' so as it shall 
help to the main. As I said, little streams they help the main stream run- 
ning into it, so grace hath a subordinating power over all things in the 
world, as they may help the main. ' One thing have I desired,' and I 
desire other things, as they may help the main. Grace will teach us that 
art. It hath a special art that way. So we see both in regard of God, and 
in regard of the soul being finite, and in respect of the wise disposing of 
grace that aims at the main, and ranks all things as they may help the 
main, he doth well say, ' One thing have I desu-ed.' 

Use. This shews the vanity and baseness of every worldly man, that makes 
ike main work and labour his by-work, and the by-icork his main ivork. That 
that is the ' one thing necessary,' Luke x. 42, is set after all. Indeed, 
without grace, this is so. The first work of grace is to set the soul in 
order, to subdue base afiections, to sanctify the judgment ; and when it 
hath set the soul in tune and order, then it is fitted to set a right price on 
things, to rank and order them as it should. So much shall be sufficient 
to unfold the object itself in general, ' One thing have I desired.' 

Now I come to the afiection itself, set forth here by the degrees. 

' One thing have I desired, and that I will seek after. 

I have desired it, and I will desire it still. Desires are the issues of the 
heart. Thoughts and desires are the two primitive issues of the heart, the 
births of the heart. Thoughts breed desires. Thoughts in the mind or 
brain, the brain strikes the heart presently. It goes from the understand- 
ing to the will and affections. What we think of, that we desire, if it be 
good. So thoughts and desires, they immediately spring from the soul ; 
and where they are in any efficacy and strength, they stir up motion in the 
outward man. The desires of the soul, being the inward motion, they stir 
up outward motion, till there be an attaining of the thing desired, and then 
there is rest. Desire to the thing desired is like mot^is ad quietem, as motion 
is to rest. When motion comes once to rest, it is quiet. So desire, which is 
the inward motion, it stirs up outward motion, till the thing desired be 
accomplished, and then the soul rests in a loving content, and enjoying of 
the thing desired. 

Now this desire, it was a spiritual desire. ' One thing have I desired of 
the Lord.' Holy desu'es, they issue from choice. A holy, wise desire, 
when it is not a mere notion, it ariseth from a choice of a thing that is 
good ; for desire is nothing but the embracing and closing with a thing that 
is good. The understanding must choose the good first, before the soul 
embrace it. The will is but the carriage of the soul, the furthering and 
* Augustine. — See note h, vol. I., page 214. — (i. 


promotion of the soul to the good things diseoverecl ; so it supposclh a 
choice of good things. 

And choice supposoth an esteem of the things before we choose them ; 
and that supposeth a dehberate judging that works an esteem. So that it 
was no hasty, sudden thing this desire ; but it rose from the sanctified 
judgment of David, that bred a holy esteem of these excellent things ; the 
means of salvation, having the Spirit of God accompanying of them, con- 
taining such excellent comforts as they do. I say this desire supposes a 
right judgment, and thence an esteem ; thence a choice upon all, choosin« 
these things above all other contentments and things in the world besides. 
For at this time he wanted in his family the comfort of his wife and house, 
&c. Tush, what do I regard these things ? If I could enjoy the sweet, 
and strong, and comfortable presence of God in his ordinances, other things 
I could bear well enough, the want of house, and wife and children, the 
pleasures and contentments of my country. Therefore, ' One thing have I 
desii'ed.' It was a desire out of a high esteem and choice of that one 
thing he speaks of. 

The point of doctrine that I will observe in brief, because I hasten to tho 
main thing, is this, 

Tliat the Spirit of God in the hearts of his children is effectual in stirring 
up hohj desires. 

There is nothing that characteriseth and sets a stamp upon a Christian so 
much as desires. All other things may be counterfeit. Words and actions 
may be counterfeit, but the deshes and affections cannot, because they are 
the immediate issues and productions of the soul ; they are that that comes 
immediately from the soul, as fire cannot be counterfeit. A man may ask 
his desii-es what he is ? According to the pulse of the desu-es, so is the 
temper of the man. Desires are better than actions a great deal ; for a 
man may do a good action, that he doth not love, and he may abstain from 
an ill action, that he hates not. But God is a Spirit, and looks to the 
spii'it especially. It is a good character of a Christian, that his desire, for 
the most part, is to good ; the tenor and sway and bent of his desire is to 
good. ' One thing have I desired.' The Spirit of God is effectual in stir- 
ring up these desires. 

Quest. But how shall we know that these desires are the chief things to 
distinguish an hypocrite from a true Christian, and whether they be true 
or no ? 

Ans. To go no farther than the text: desires are holy and spiritual, 

If they be about holy and spiritual things. ' One thing have I desired,' 
saith David. What was that ? To be rich and great in the world, and to 
be revenged on my enemies ? No, no ; that is not the matter. I have 
many enemies ; God will take a course that they shall fall. That that I 
desire, is to have nearer communion with God ; I desire to enjoy the ordi- 
nances of God. So his desu-e it was set on spmtual objects, and that 
argued it was a holy desu-e. 

2. And then again, his desire. It was a, fervent desire, as he saith, ' One 
thing have I desired, and that will I seek after.' It was not a blaze or 
flash, that was soon in and soon out. It was not a mere velleity, a kind of 
inefficacious desire. Fervency shewed that his desire was sound. Ho 
would not be quieted without the thing accomplished. 

8. And then constancy, when a man will not be taken off. There is not 
the wickedest man in the world, but he hath good flashes, good ofl'ers, and 
desires sometimes. * Lord, have mercy upon me,' &c. He hath good 


ejaculations sometimes. Ay, but what is the bent and sway of his desires ? 
This was David's constant desire. As it was about spiritual, and was a 
fervent and eager desire, that he would not be quieted, so it was constant. 
That that is natural is constant, and that that is sup ernatur ally natural. 
That that is natural in spiritual things, it is constant ; nature is constant. 
For how doth nature difier from art ? Artificial things are for a time. 
Teach a creature beyond his nature, he will shew his naturals. So let au 
hypocrite act a part, if it be not his nature, he will soon turn to his naturals, 
and shew that he is an hypocrite again. Constancy and perpetuity in good 
things, a tenor of good desires, shew that the heart is good, because it is 

4. And then again, this desire here, of David, it was kindled /?"owi the love 
of God, and not out of base ends. Holy desires are kindled in the soul from 
the love of God ; for what saith he here ? ' One thing have I desired.' 
What was that ? ' To dwell in the house of the Lord.' ^Vhat to do ? ' To 
behold the beauty of God ;' to see God in his excellency and beauty and 
worthiness. All his desire was from this, that his soul was enamoured 
with the beauty of God's house. The love of God stirred up this blessed 
desire in the prophet. Therefore, it was a holy and spiritual desire. 

5. Again, as they spring from the love of God, so they tend to the honour 
of God ; for what comes from heaven, goes to heaven back again. Ag 
waters that come from a spring, they go as high as the place they come 
from ; so holy desires, being kindled from heaven from a spirit of love, they 
go to heaven again. The love of God stirs them up, and he seeks God's 
glory, and honour, and inward communion with God in this. For a man 
out of a natural desire may desire holy things sometimes, to be free fi'om 
such or such a sin, and to have such and such a grace, not out of a desire 
to honoui" God ; but if he had gi'ace, he sees he might escape troubles, he 
might be free from temporal judgments, and he might ingratiate himself, 
and commend himself to this or that person, whom he desires to benefit 
by. Therefore, he desires as much grace as may help forward his inten- 
tions in the vforld. He joins the world and God together. Oh ! no, these 
are not the desires that distinguish a Christian from another man ; but 
those that spring from the love of God, that proceed inwardly from the 
truth of the heart, and that the things themselves please God, and that 
there is a loveliness in them, and that they tend to the honour of God 
especially, and our o'fvn good in a secondary place. This is a character of 
good desires. Thus we see, though I should go no further than the text, 
how we may distinguish holy and heavenly desires from other deshes. 
' One thing have I desired, and that will I seek,' &c. 

Therefore, let us examine what our desires are, what our bent is. 
Desires issue from the will and afiections, and they shew the frame of the 
soul more than anything in the world. As the springs in low places are 
discovered by the steams and vapom-s that come out of the place, men 
gather that there is a spring below, because of the ascent of vapours ; so 
the vapouring out of these desires shew that there is a spring of grace in 
the heart ; they discover that there is a spring within. 

And let those that mourn in Sion, that have some evidence (though 
they are not so good as they would be), let them look to their hearts. 
What is thy desire ? What is the bent of thy soul ? "When a man is once 
converted and turned, wherein is his turning ? Especially, his mind and 
judgment and esteem of things are altered. There is a change of mind, 
and withal the desire and bent of the soul is altered ; that if a man ask 


him, and examine what the bent is of all the course of his life, oh ! that 
God might be glorified, that his church and cause might prosper, that 
others might be converted ; this is the bent of his soul ; not that he might 
be great in the world, and ruin those that stand in his way (this shews that 
a man is a rotten hypocrite). The bent and sway of the soul shews what 
& man is. 

Because I would not have any deceived in the point, take one evidence 
and sign more with you, and that shall be instead of all, and it is out of 
the text too, ' One thing have I desired, and that will I seek after,' not by 
prayer only, but in the use of all means ; as, indeed, he was novcr quiet 
till he was settled again in Sion, nor then neither till he had gotten materials 
for the temple, and a place for God's honour ' to dwell in,' Deut. xii. 11. 
If desires be not the desires of the sluggard, there will be endeavour ; as 
we see in the desire of David here, ' One thing have I desired, and that will 
I seek.' He used all means to enjoy communion with God sweetly. 

The sluggard lusts and hath nothing. So there are many spiritual slug- 
gards that lust and have nothing, because they shew not their desire in 
their endeavours. There will be endeavour where the desire is true. For 
desire springs from the will, the will being the appetite of the whole man, 
Voluntas appetitus, &c. The understanding carries not, but the will. When 
the will will have a thing, it carries all the parts. Hereupon, when the 
desire is true, it stirs up all the powers and faculties to do their duty, to 
seek to attain the accomplishment and possession of that that is desired. 

Those, therefore, that pretend they have good desires to God, and yet 
live scandalously and negligently, and will take no pains with their souls, 
alas ! it is the sluggard's desire, if they take not pains to remove all lets and 
hindrances. For a man may know the desire of a thing is good when he 
labours to set the hindrances out of the way, if he can. If the lets and 
hindrances be not impossible, he will remove it, if he can. Therefore, those 
that pretend this and that, ' There is a lion in the way,' Prov. xxvi. 13, 
when they might remove it, if they would, there is no true desire ; for 
desire is with the removing of all possible hindrances of the thing desired. 

Quest. But to resolve one question. How shall I know whether my 
desire be strong enough and ripe enough or no to give me comfort ? 

Ans. I answer, if the desire of gi-ace he above the desire of any earthly 
thing, that a man may say with David, ' One thing have I desu-ed,' I desire 
to be free from sin, as a greater blessing to my soul, than to be free from 
any calamity. Oh ! it is a good sign. And surely a man can never have 
comfort of his desire till his desires be raised to that pitch. For none ever 
shall come to heaven that do not desire the things that tend to heaven, 
above all earthly things ; nor none shall ever escape hell that do not think 
it worse and more temble than all earthly miseries. God brings no fools 
to heaven that cannot discern the difference of things. Therefore, let us 
know, that our desires are to little purpose if we have some desire to be 
good, &c. ; but we have a greater desh-e to be rich and great in the world, 
to have such and such place. If the desire of that be greater than to be 
gracious with God, if we hate poverty, and disgrace, and want, and this and 
that more than sin and hell, to which sin leads, it is a sign that our judg- 
ments are rotten and corrupt, and that our desire is no pure spiritual desire. 
For it is not answerable to the thing desu-ed ; there is no proportion. David 
saith here, ' One thing have I desired.' H^s desire carried him amain to 
* one thing necessary,' above all other things whatsoever. Thus you see 
out of the text, what are the distinguishing notes of true dcsii-es from those 


that are false. I need name no more, if we consider what hath been spoken.. 

Now for our comfort, if we find these holy desires : Oh ! let us take com- 
fort in ourselves : for ' God will fulfil the desires of them that fear him,' 
Ps. xxxvii. 4. Holy desires, they are the birth of God's Spirit, and there 
is not one of them that shall be lost ; for God regards those desires, ' My 
groanings are not hid from thee,' Ps. xxxviii. 9 ; my groanings in trouble, 
and desires of grace. There is not the least thing stirred up in the soul by 
the Spirit of God, but it prevails with God in some degree, answerable to 
the degree of worth in it. Therefore, if we have holy desires stirred up by 
God, God promotes those desires. God will regard his own work, and to 
' him that hath shall be given,' Mat. xiii. 12. ' Lord, be merciful to thy 
servants, that desire to fear thy name,' saith Nehemiah, i. 11.* It is 
a plea that we may bring to God, * Lord, I desire to please thee,' as it is, 
' The desire of our souls is to thy name, Lord,' Isa. xxvi. 8. We fail 
sometimes, that we cannot perform actions with that zeal and earnestness 
as we should ; but the desire and bent of our soul is to thy name. A 
Christian may make it his plea to God, — truly our desires ai'e towards thy 
name, and we have some suitable endeavours ; and our desires are more 
that way than to anything in the world. It is a good plea, though we be 
much hindered and pulled back by our corruptions. So much for that, the 
act upon this object, ' One thing have I desired.' 

Of whom doth he desire it ? Of the Lord. 

' One thing have I desired of the Lord.' 

It was not a blind desire of the thing, but a desire directed to the right 
object, to God, to fulfil it. Holy desires are such as we are not ashamed 
of, but dare open them to God himself in prayer, and desires to God. A 
Christian, what he desires as a Chi-istian, he prays for, and what he prays 
for he desires ; he is a hypocrite else. If a man praj^ as St Austin, in 
his confessions, f that God would free him from temptations, and 5'et is 
unwilling to have those loving baits from him, he prays, but he doth not 
desire. There are many that pray ; they say in their prayers, ' Lead 113 
not into temptation,' Mat. vi. 13, and yet they run into temptation ; they 
feed their eyes, and ears, and senses with vain things. You know what 
they are well enough, their lives are nothing but a satisfying of their lusts, 
and yet they pray, ' Lead us not in temptation.' And there are many 
persons that desire that, that they dare not pray for, they desire to be sa 
bad. But a Christian what he desires, he prays for. I desire in earnest 
to be in the house of the Lord, I desu-c it of the Lord, I put up my request 
to him; and what I pray to him for, I earnestly desire indeed. Learn this 
in a word, hence, that. 

When u'e have holy desires stirred up by God, turn them to prayers. 

A prayer is more than a desire. It is a desire put up to God. Let us 
turn our desires into prayers. That is the way to have them speed. 

' One thing have I desired of the Lord.' 

The reason why we should, in all our desires, make our desires known to 
God, is to keep our acquaintance continually with God. We have continual 
use of desires of grace, and desires of mortification of corruptions, and of 
freedom from this and that evil that is upon us. As many desires as we have, 
let them be so many prayers ; turn our desires into prayers to God, and so 
maintain our acquaintance with God. And we shall never come from God 

* Misprinted ' Ezechias' = Hezekiah. — G. 

t Conf. A reminiscence rather than translation, of a recurring sentiment in tho 
' Confessions.' — G. 


■without a blessing and comfort. He never sends any out of his presence 
empty, that come with a gracious heart, that know what they desiro. And 
it brings peace with it, when we make our desires known to God by our 
prayer. It brings ' peace that passeth understanding,' Philip, iv. Put case 
God doth not hear our request, that he doth not grant what we ask. * The 
peace of God which passeth understanding, shall keep your hearts and 
minds.' So that when we put up our requests to God with thankfulness for 
what we have received, the soul will find peace. Therefore I say, let us 
turn all our desires into prayers, to maintain perpetual communion and 
acquaintance with God. Oh ! it is a gainful and comfortable acquaintance. 

It is an argument, and sign of a good conscience, for a man to go oft to 
God with his desires. It is a sign that he is not in a wicked course ; for 
then he dares not appeal to the presence of God. Sore eyes cannot endure 
the light ; and a galled conscience cannot endure God's presence. There- 
fore it is good to come oft into the presence of God. It shews that the 
heart doth not regard iniquity. * If I regard iniquity in my heart, God 
will not hear my prayers.' Ps. Ixvi. 18. It is an argument of a good con- 
science to come oft into the presence of God. But I will not enter into the 
common place of prayer. 

We see next his earnestness, ' I have desii'ed it of the Lox'd, and I vUl 
seek after it.' 

I will follow God still. Here is his importunity in prayer, his fervency, 
his uncessancy and perseverance, as the apostle exhorts, he persevered in 
prayer, Eph. vi. 18. ' I will seek after it.' In prayer, and in the use of all 
good means, I will do what I can. So you see one qualification of prayer, 
it must be with iicrseveraiice and importunity. God loves importunate suitors. 
Though we cannot endure to be troubled with such persons, yet God loves 
importunate suitors, as we see in Luke xviii. 1-8, in the parable of the 
widow. God there vouchsafes to compare himself to an unrighteous judge, 
that ' cared neither for God nor man,' yet the imporlunity of the widow 
moved him to regard her. So the poor church of God, she is like a widow, 
with her hair hanging about her. ' This is Zion, whom none regardeth ; ' 
yet this widow, the poor chui-ch of God, and every particular member of it, 
they are importunate with the Judge of heaven and earth, with God ; and 
will not he more regard the importunity of his children whom he loves, and 
delights in, that ' caU upon him day and night' ? Ps. cii. 2, wiU not he re- 
gard their petitions, when an unrighteous judge shall care for the impor- 
tunity of a poor widow ? Thus you see the excellent fruit of importunity 
in our blessed Saviour himself, and here in David, ' I will seek after it,' I 
will have no nay. Therefore w^e are exhorted in the Scriptures, not to keep 
silence, to give God no rest. ' You that are the Lord's remembrancers, 
keep not silence, give him no rest.' As Jacob with the angel, wrestle with 
him, leave him not tiU we have a blessing. As the woman of Canaan, let 
us follow him still, and take no nay. Oh this is a blessed violence, be- 
loved, when we can set upon God, and will have no nay, but renew suit 
upon suit, and desii'o on desire, and never leave till our petitions be 
answered. Can the hypocrite pray alway ? Would you know a comfort- 
able note to distinguish an h}^50crite from a true Christian ? take it hence, 
will the h3;^ocrite pray alway ? Sometimes he will pray ; but if God 
answer him not presently he gives over ; but God's children pray always, 
if the ground be good, if they see the excellency of the thing, and the neces- 
sity, and withal join at the amiableness of it, that it may be gotten. "^Tien 
they see the exaellcncy, and the necessity and usefulness of the thing, and 


the attainableness of it, and that it is attainable in the use of means, they 
need no more, they will never give over. That is the reason of that in the 
petitions, ' Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,' 
Mat. vi. 10. But can we do the will of God on earth as it is done in 
heaven ? and doth God's glorious kingdom of heaven come while we are 
here on earth ? No ; it doth not, but the soul that is guided with the 
spirit of prayer, it rests not in this or that degree, but prays till it be in 
heaven, ' Thy kingdom come.' I have grace now, but I desire glory. 
' Thy will be done.' I desire to do it as thy saints in heaven, though I 
cannot do it ; but I desire, and I will not give God rest, but pray, till all 
my prayers be answered in heaven ; and then I shall do the will of God as 
it is done in heaven indeed. Thus we ought eagerly, and constantly to 
persevere in our desires, till they be fully satisfied, or else we are but hypo- 

Let us make conscience, I beseech you, of this duty more than we have 
done, and never give God over for grace ; for strength against our corrup- 
tions ; for his church ; for the prosperity of the means of salvation ; for 
those things that we have ground for ; let us never give him over till we 
see he hath answered our desires. And when he hath answered our 
desires, let us go on still to desire more ; for this life is a life of desires. 
The life of accomplishment is heaven. Then all our desires shall be ac- 
complished, and all promises performed, and not before then. This is a 
life of desires, and we must be in a state of desires and prayers still till we 
be in heaven. 

Quest. "WTiat is the reason that God doth not presently accomplish our 
desires ? 

Ans. There be diverse reasons. First of all he loves to hear the desires of 
his servants, he loves to be sued unto; because he knows it is for our good. 
It is music that best pleaseth God's ears to hear a soul come to him to re- 
quest, especially spiritual things of him, which he delights most to give, 
which he knows is most useful and best for us. This pleaseth him so 
marvellously, that he will not presently grant it, but leads us along and 
along, that still he may hear more and more from us. 

2. And then to keep us in a jwrpetnal hiimhle subjection and dependence on 
him, he grants not all at once, but leads us along, by yielding a little and 
a little, that so he may keep us in a humble dependence. 

3. And then to exercise all our graces ; for a spirit of prayer is a spirit of 
exercise of all grace. We cannot pray, but we must exercise faith, and love 
to God and his church ; and a sanctified judgment to esteem what are the 
best things to be prayed for ; and to exercise mortification. ' If I regard 
sin, God will not regard my prayers,' Ps. Ixvi. 18. A spirit of prayer is a 
spirit that puts all into exercise ; therefore God, to keep us in the exercise 
of all grace, answers not at the first. 

4. And then he would have us to set a high price ujjoii ivhat ice desire and 
seek after. If we had it at the first, we should not set so high an esteem 
and price of it. 

5. And then, that ive might better use it when we have it. Then we use 
things as we should do when we have gotten them with much ado ; when 
we have won them from God with great importunity, then we keep and pre- 
serve them as we should. These and the like reasons may be given, and 
you may easily conceive them yom-selves. Therefore let us not be offended 
with God's gracious dispensation if he answer not our desires presently, 
but pray still ; and if we have the spirit of prayer continued to us, that 


spirit of prayer is better than the thing we beg a great deal. Ofttimes God 
answers us in a better kind, when he gives us a spirit of prayer; for in- 
creasing a spirit of prayer in us, he increaseth all graces in us. What is it 
we would have ? this or that particular grace. But when God gives us a 
spirit of prayer, he answers us better than in the thing we ask, for there is all 
grace. He will answer in one kind or other. But I will not be large in 
these points. You see then what was the affection of the holy prophet, to 
that one thing. ' One thing have I desired.' And he did not only desire 
it, but turned his desire into a prayer. He prayed to God ; and he not only 
prayed once or twice, but he seeks it still, till God vouchsafed to grant it. 

Obj. Well, but that that he prayed for, he was assured of, and therefore 
what need he pray for it ? He had a promise, ' He shall prepare a table 
before mine enemies, my cup doth overflow,' Ps. xxiii. 5, 6. But what is 
that to this ? These be things of this life. Oh ! but, saith he, God will 
be good to me in the things of another life, and all the days of my life too. 
' Doubtless the lovingkindness of the Lord shall follow me all the days of 
my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord.' He takes in trust his 
dwelling in the house of God ; and that the lovingkindness of God should follow 
him all the days of his life, he was assured of it, and yet here he seeks it 
and prays for it. 

A)is. I note it, to shew that the assurance of the thing takes not away 
the earnestness of prayer. Daniel was assured (Dan. ix. 4, seq.) that God 
would deliver the Jews out of Babylon. He had read Jeremiah's pro- 
phecies, he knew the time was accomplished ; yet we see what an earnest 
prayer he makes there. Christ knew that God heard him in all his desires, 
that he should have all good from God, being his only Son, yet he prayed 
whole nights sometimes, and a whole chapter, John xvii., is an excellent 
prayer of his. So that the assurance of the thing takes not away prayer 
to God ; nay, it stablisheth it, for God so makes good his promises for the 
time to come, as that he makes them good this way, he will be sought to 
by prayer. And I may know hence that he will make good his pro- 
mises for the time to come to me, if I have a spirit of prayer for them ; 
if I pray for perseverance to the end, that God would vouchsafe me grace 
to live in the church, and to grow up as a cedar. God surely means to 
grant this, because he hath given me holy and gracious desires, which he 
would not have given me, but that he means to give the thing. For this is 
an encouragement to pray, when I know I shall not lose my labour. I 
pra}-, because I have a promise to have it, and I know the promise runs upon 
this. ' But I will be sought unto of the house of Judah for this,' Ezek. 
xxxvi. 37. For if we have it, and have not sought it by prayer, for the most 
part we cannot have a comfortable use of it, unless we have things as the 
fi-uit of our prayers. Though there be not a particular prayer for every 
particular thing we have of God, yet unless it be the fruit of the general 
prayer, that we put up daily, we cannot have comfort in it ; if God give it 
by a general providence, as he fills ' the beUies of the wicked with good 
things,' Ps. xvii. 14. But if we will have things for our good in particular, 
we must receive them as the fruit of our prayers from God. You see here 
he seeks, anddesu'es that that he had a promise to have, ' One thing have I 
desired of the Lord, and that will I seek.' 

' That I may dwell in the house of the Lord.' 

It was generally propounded before. ' One thing have I desired, and 
that will I seek after,' with all my might. And what is that ? The speci- 
ticatiou of it is this : 


' That I may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 

His desire is, not only to be in God's house, but to dwell in it, to abide; 
and not for a little while, but to dwell, and to dwell ' all the days of my life.' 

The house of God then was the tabernacle, the sanctuary. The temple 
was not yet built. He desired to be near the tabernacle, to dwell in the 
sanctuaiy, the place of God's worship. In the tabernacle, which in those 
times was the house of God, there was the ark and the mercy-seat, types of 
many glorious things in the New Testament ; the holy of holies, &c. And 
he desired to dwell in the tabernacle, to be near the ark, the house of God. 
Why ? Because God manifested his presence there, more than in other 
places. The ark hath God's name in diverse places of Scripture ; because 
God gave his answers in the ark, in the propitiatory, or mercy-seat. They 
came there to know his meaning, what he would have ; he gave his answer 
there. He is said to dwell between the cherubins. There were two 
cherubins upon the mercy-seat, and God is said to dwell between the 
cherubins, Exod. xxxv. 22 ; that is, there he was present to give answers 
to the high priest, when he came to ask. David knew this well enough, that 
God had vouchsafed a more special presence in the tabernacle, than in all 
the places of the world, and therefore, saith he, ' I desire to dwell in the 
house of the Lord all the days of my life.' 

' House,' we take for the persons that are in it, and persons that are 
ordered, or else it is a confusion, and not a house. It is a company of 
those that are voluntary. They come not by chance into our house, those 
that are members of our society ; but there is an order. There is a gover- 
nor in a house, and some that are under government, and there is a volun- 
tary conjunction and combination. So the chm'ch is a voluntary company 
of people that is orderly, some to teach, and some to be instructed ; and 
thereupon it is called a house. 

And it is called the house of God, because he is present there, as a man 
delights to be present in his house. It is the place where God will be met 
withal. As a man will be found in his house, and there he will have suitors 
come to him, where he reveals his secrets. A man rests, he lies, and 
lodgeth in his house. Where is a man so familiar as in his house ? And 
what other place hath he such care to protect and provide for as his house ? 
And he lays up his treasures, and his jev/els in his house. So God lays up 
all the treasures of grace and comfort in the visible church. In the church 
he is to be spoken with as a man is in his house. There he gives us sweet meet- 
ings ; there are mutual spiritual kisses. ' Let him kiss me with the kisses of 
his mouth,' Cant. i. 2. A man's house is his castle, as we say, that he 
will protect and provide for. God will be sure to protect and provide for 
his church. Therefore he calls the church of God, that is, the tabernacle 
(that was the church at that time), the house of God. If we apply it to 
our times, that that answers the tabernacle now, is particular visible churches 
under particular pastors, where the means of salvation are set up. Particu- 
lar \'isible churches now arc God's tabernacle (h). The church of the Jews 
was a national church. There was but one church, but one place, and one 
tabernacle ; but now God hath erected particular tabernacles. Every par- 
ticular church and congregation under one pastor, their meeting is the 
church of God, a several church independent. Our national church, that 
is, the Church of England, because it is under a government civil, which is 
not dependent upon any other foreign prince, it is a particular church from 
other nations. 

In that God calls the church his house, it shews the special respect that 


he hath to his chui'ch. God, though he be present everywhere, yet ho is 
present in another manner in his church. As for instance, the soul is pre- 
sent in all the parts of the body; but the soul, as far as it understands, is only 
in the brain ; as far as it is the fountain of life, it is in the heart. It hath 
offices and functions in all the parts ; but in the special function, the rational 
function of it, as it discourseth and reasoneth, it is in the brain. So for 
our apprehension's sake, God is everywhere ; but as he sanctifies and pours 
out his blessings, and opens, and manifests his secrets, so he is in his 
church especially. God is everj^vhere, but he is in another way in 
heaven than in other places. He is there gloriously. So in earth he 
is eveiywhere, but he is in another manner in the church (the heaven 
upon earth), than in other places. He is there as in his house to 
protect them, and provide for them as his family ; and there he abides by 
his ordinances, and takes solace, and delight. God delights himself in his 
church and children that attend upon his ordinances. ' Where two or three 
are met together, I will be in the midst of them,' Mat. xviii. 20. When God's 
people meet together in the church, God is present among them. So you 
see in what respect the tabernacle then, and particular churches now, which 
answer it, are called the house of God. 

Let us leam this for our duty, as well as consider our comfort, in that 
the chm'ch is the house of God, let us carry ourselves as ive should, decently, 
in the house of God. Those that are to look to the house of God, they 
should purge out all unclean comers, that God may delight to dwell in his 
house still, that we give him no cause to depart out of his house. ' That I 
may dwell in the house of the Lord,' d'C. 

The act here is, that I ' may dwell in house of the Lord.' He did not 
desire to be in it for a day or a Httle time, to salute it, and so leave to it ; but 
to ' dwell in the house of the Lord,' and to dwell there for ever. You see 
here that Christians have a constant love to the best things, a constant 
desire to dwell in the house of God. You may think it a strange desire of 
this holy man to dwell in the house of God ; but think then of the con- 
tiuuedness of his desire, it was even to heaven itself ; he desired ' to dwell 
in the house of God for ever.' 

For what end ? 

1. I desire to dwell in the house of God, that I may dwell in the love of 
God, and in the care of God to me in Christ for ever. I do not desire to 
dwell in the house of God, as it is a meeting, and there an end ; but I desii'e 
to dwell in the house of God, that I may dwell in the love and care of God, 
and not only dwell in his care and love to me, and his care and esteem of 
me ; but, 

2. That I may dwell in my love to him, that I may ' abide in his love,' 
and faith in him ; that I may abide in Christ. It is not only for a man 
to abide in the house of God, and go no further than so, but to abide 
in the love of God ; and in our love, and care, and faith, and dependence 
upon him, to make God our house, to live, and walk, and abide in, ' to 
dwell in God,' as St John saith, 1 John iv. 13 ; not only in the house of 
God, but God hunself. And the upshot of all his desu-e, was to abide in 
heaven for ever. The desires of God's people never rest till they come to 
their proper centre, and there they are quiet. There is a rest of all desires 
in htaven ; as fii-e, it never rests till it come to its clement above, and 
heavy bodies rest not till they come to the centre below. So holy desires, 
that are the motion of the soul, they rest not till they come to the centre, 
the place of rest. So we must conceive of David's desire to dwell in the 


house of tlie Lord, to dwell in the care, and love, and protection of God 
for ever, to dwell in love, and faith, and dependence, and in the whole 
stream of my soul for ever while I live ; and then abide in heaven, 
where there are * pleasures for evermore,' as he saith in another place, 
Ps. xvi. 11. 

Therefore when we have any thoughts and desires, while we are here 
below, of grace and comfort, &c., let us extend, and stretch our desires to 
the last, to heaven itself, where all desires shall be accomplished, where all 
promises shall have their full performance. It is a poor thing only to 
desire to live in the church militant, and there is an end. No ; here is the 
comfort of God's people, that in their prayers and desu'es, and their en- 
deavours suitable to their prayers and desires, they all lead them to heaven; 
and there they have their full accomplishment. They have a constant desire 
to dwell in the house of God. 

1. The reason is, because the soul in this world is never fully satisfied 
ivith the good things of God's house till it be in heaven. This life is a life of 
desires and longing ; the church is but contracted to Christ in this world ; 
the marriage shall be consummate in another world. Therefore the church 
desires still further and further communion with Christ in his ordinances 
here, and for ever in heaven. 

2. And then there are remainders of corruptions still, that dead and dull 
our performances, and 2nd us on to actions that grieve our sjnrits and the Spirit 
of God ; to this end, that we may have a perpetual supply of the Spirit. 
We desii'e to dwell in the house of the Lord, because there is corruption in 
us still, till grace hath wrought it out fully. 

3. There is more and more to ho had still in the house of God. We 
never come to be full. The soul it is wondrous capable, being a spiritual 
essence. It is capable of more grace and comfort than we can have 
in this world. Therefore we pray, ' Thy will be done on earth as 
it is in heaven.' A Christian desires to dwell in the house of the 
Lord here, till he come to dwell in heaven, till he be translated from the 
temple here, to the temple in heaven. InEphes.iv. 11, seq., God hath ordained 
a ministry to the edification of the church, not only to constitute the church, 
as some think and say, that preaching must constitute a church, and after 
praying must edify it. Oh ! let both go together. ' God gave gifts to men,' 
to preach, to edify the chm-ch more and more. So long as there is use of 
building more and more, so long there is need of the ministry. Therefore 
he desired to ' dwell in the house of the Lord.' 

4. But the especial reason why he desired it, was because he knew God 
rvas cdso present in his own house, and there is no good thing can be u-anting 
where God is present. It is the presence of God that makes all things sweet 
and comfortable. What makes heaven to be heaven, but because God is 
there ? If the soul of a Christian were among angels, angelical comforts 
would not be desired, if God were not there. If there were all the delights 
in the world, it would not care for them, except God were present. Heaven 
were not heaven without the presence of God. The presence of God in a 
dungeon, in a lion's den, makes it a paradise, a place of pleasure ; the 
presence of God makes all conditions comfortable. If there be not the 
presence of God, the greatest comfort in the world is nothing. What 
makes the church esteemed of by holy men ? God is present there ; and 
wheresoever God is present, in the communion of saints, especially in his 
ordinances, we should esteem them by this, that Goil is present. What 
makes hell to be hell ? There is no presence of God there; no testi- 


niony of his presence in liell ; notliinrr but ' utter darkness.' What makes 
the life of man comfortable? There is some presence of God in everything. 
There is a presence of God in meat, in drink, in friends, that a man may say, 
Oh, here is a good God, here is some presence of God. There is not the 
vilest reprobate in the world, but he hath some testimony of God's presence. 
He tastes of God in somewhat or other; though he see not God in it (but 
like a beast is drowned in the use of the creature), yet God shews himself 
to him in some comfort. But when God shall remove all his presence from 
a man, that is hell itself. What is hell but where there is no presence of 
God ? When there is no communion with the chief good, that the fountain 
of good is removed, a man is in darkness, and horror, that is hell, as we 
see in Dives, Luke xvi. 4, seq. It is the presence of God that makes 
things comfortable. That is heaven, to enjoy nearer and nearer communion 
with God. 

Therefore let us labour to enjoy the presence of God in his ordinances, 
that we may have a heaven upon earth, that we may desire still more and 
more to dehght in them, till we come to heaven, where all desires shall be 
accomplished, and there shall be no more desire. David knowing that God 
was present in his church, he saith, ' Oh that I might dwell in the house of 
God all the days of my Hfe.' 

See the constant disposition of God's children hence. It is a torment to 
carnal men to watch one hour with Christ. ' Could you not watch with me 
one hour ? ' Mat. xxvi. 40, saith he to his disciples. It is a torment to 
give God the hearing ; to sanctify the Lord's day. Alas ! it cannot stand 
with then- carnal dispositions. But God's people long, and have a longing 
desire. ' One thing have I desired, that I may dwell in the house of the 
Lord.' Men that have not depth of grace, they are like comets. They 
blaze for a time ; but when they are not fed with vapours from below, there 
is a dispartition not long after. But fixed stars are always in the firmament ; 
they never vary. So a true Christian is as a fixed star, he is fixed in the 
firmament, in his desire. ' One thing have I desired, that I may dwell in 
the house of the Lord all the days of my life ; ' and God seconds his desire, 
and saith amen to it ; as I shall have occasion to press after, in the use in 
the latter part of the verse. ' That I may dwell in the house of the Lord.' 

' To behold the beauty of the Lord.' 

This was another ground of the eager, constant, unsatisfied desu'e, ' To 
dwell in the house of the Lord,' that he might ' see the beauty of the Lord,' 
or the delight, the sweetness of God. Beauty is too particular a word to 
express the fulness of the Holy Ghost, the pleasantness or the delight of 
God. Take the word in a general sense, in your apprehensions. It may 
be the object of all senses, inward and outward. Delight is most tran- 
scendent for pleasantness ; for indeed God in his ordinances, is not only 
beauty to the eye of the soul, but is ointment to the smell, and sweetness 
to the taste, and all in all to all the powers of the soul. God in Christ, 
therefore, he is delightful and sweet. ' That I may see the beauty of the 

In this clause here are discovered these two things, the object and 
the act. 

There are these two points. That God is beautifid. And this is seen in 
his ordinances, and in his church, especially, 'to see the beauty' of God's 
house. And it is the happiness of a Christian, and he esteems it so by the 
Spirit of God, to see, and to be partaker of this beauty of God. Sight is 
put for the more full enjoying, one sense put for another, as indeed sight 


is taken for all the senses, inward and outward. It is no benefit to us, 
though there be beauty, if we have not eyes to see it, all is lost ; therefore 
he desired to dwell in the house of the Lord, that he might ' see the beauty 
of the Lord.' 

Now, concerning the beauty of God, I will not speak of it at large, or 
singly of the excellencies of God. The text aims especially at the beauty 
of God, as discovered in his ordinances, in his church. A man may speak 
gloriously, and largely of the beauty of God, of his excellency. That his 
wisdom is wondrous excellent, and beautiful, that is seen in the ordering of 
things, and his power is wonderful beautiful, and his mercy, &c. All this 
is true ; but what is all to us, though God be never so beautiful in himself, 
if he be not beautiful to us in Christ, and in his church ? Therefore we 
will come to that that the holy prophet here aims at, ' The beau-ty of the 
Lord ;' that is, God is especially beautiful in his church, in his ordinances, 
and that was the ground of his desu-e. Omne pulchrum est amahile, every 
beautiful thing is an attractive of love. It is no wonder he desired to dwell 
in the house of the Lord, because there was the beauty of the Lord, and the 
most excellent beauty of all. 

The beauty of the Lord is especially the amiable things of God, which 
IS, his mercy and love, that makes all other things beautiful that is in the 

"What makes his power sweet to his children ? and his justice, in con- 
founding their enemies, and giving rewards ? and his wisdom sweet, in re- 
conciling justice and mercy together wisely in Christ ? All that makes this 
so lovely, is his grace and love, that set his wisdom on work, to devise a 
way to reconcile justice and mercy by Christ Emmanuel, God and man. 
So that that is most beautiful in God is grace ; as you have it, Exod. 
xxxiv. 6. When Moses desired to see the glory of God, how doth God de- 
scribe himself to Moses ? ' Jehovah, Jehovah strong, gi-acious, merciful, 
longsufifering, full of kindness.' So that if we would see the glory of God, 
it appears most in grace, and mercy, and lovingkindness, and such sweet 
attributes. This makes all things in God amiable ; for now we can think 
of his justice, and not fear. It is fully satisfied in Christ. We can 
think of his power with comfort. It serves for our good to subdue 
all our enemies. There is no atttibute, though it be terrible in itself, 
but it is sweet and amiable, because God looks graciously on us in his 

Now this grace and love and mercy of God shines to us in the face of 
Christ as beloved, as I have shewed out of that text, 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' We 
all behold the glory of God as in a glass (c), that is, we behold the love of 
God in Jesus Christ, in the miiTor of the gospel. We must take God, not 
as considered abstractively^:'- and simply, but God in Christ ; for other no- 
tions of God are terrible. God will not otherwise be seen by the eje of the 
soul, nor otherwise known, than in Christ. Now God in the Messiah is 
very delightful in his house. This beauteous grace of God shines in the 
ftice of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6. For God is so gracious and merciful, as 
that his justice must be fully satisfied, that is, only in Christ ; that being 
satisfied, God in Christ looks on us with a gracious look. So that God is 
beautiful now in regard of his mercy and grace, as it is revealed in Jesus 
Christ, as he looks upon us in the face of his beloved Son. There are 
two objects of religious worship. God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
and Christ Mediator. The beauty of both is wondrous in the church, 
* That is, ' abstractly.' — G. 


wondrous towards the church of God, and it is most apparent in the ordi- 
nances of God in the church. Christ is ' altogether lovely,' Cant. v. 16. Christ 
in whom God is a Father, and reconciled to us ; and now we can sweetly think 
of, ' He is altogether lovely, the chief of ten thousand.' The church sets 
him out there particularly, his head, his arms, his breasts, his eves. * His 
Ups drop myiTh,' Cant. v. 13. She singles out every excellency of Christ, 
a,nd dwells upon it in her meditation, and sums up all together, ' Christ is 
lovely.' What makes beauty but a mixture of diverse colours ? as we say, 
white and red mix together sweetly. Now to see justice and mercy in 
Christ so sweetly mixed, what an excellent beauty it makes ! To see the 
justice of God fully satisfied, that his mercy might ran amain to us now. 
Here is a sea indeed if we should enter into it, to see the love of God, which 
is the most beautiful and amiable grace of all ; the love of God in Christ, 
and the love of Christ towards us. 

Christ was never more lovely to his church than when he was most deformed 
for his chui-ch ; * there was no form nor beauty in him,' Isa. liii. 2, when 
he hung upon the cross. Oh ! there was a beauty to a guilty soul, to see 
his surety enduring the wrath of God, overcoming all his enemies, and 
nailing the law to his cross. And that should endear Christ to us above all 
things. He should be the dearer to us, the more vile and base he was made 
for us, and he should be most lovely in our eyes, when he was least lovely 
in his own, and when he was deformed, when our sins were upon him. 
"VVe should consider those times especially. The world is most offended at 
that, that a Christian most joys in. ' God forbid that I should joy in any- 
thing but in the cross of Christ,' Gal. vi. 14, saith St Paul ; so we should 
joy in and love that especiallj'' in Christ. 

Now this love of God in Christ, and this love of Christ, is expressed to 
us in the Scriptures at large ; it is published by the ministry, sealed by the 
sacrament. It is too lai'ge an ai'gument for me to wade into. I need but 
only give you a touch and taste of it. 

Now, that that makes the house of God so beautiful, then, is the love of 
God, and the love of Christ shewed and manifested, and the presence of God, 
of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost in the church. Take it for the persons ; 
God the Father, as he hath revealed himself a Father in Christ, he is 
among the people of God in the church, and there is God the Son, and the 
Holy Ghost, dispensing graces and comfort there. It is the presence of 
the king that makes the com-t, and it is the presence of God in the chm-ch 
that makes it so glorious and so excellent as it is. ' Glorious things ai-e 
spoken of thee, thou city of God,' Ps. Ixxxvii. 3. 

The chm'ch likewise is beautiful in regard of the anrjels, that are alicaij 
attending in our assemblies, and see how we carry ourselves. Here is not 
only the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost distributing gi-ace and mercy, but 
likewise the blessed angels, as pure instruments are in our assemblies. 
Therefore in the cm-tains, in the hangings of the ark, there were pictures of 
cherubins, to shew that the angels attend about the church, especially the 
church gathered together ; for God more respects the church gathered to- 
gether than any several member. We are all temples severally, but espe- 
cially the church is the temple when it is met together. Now by the 
cherubins in the curtains of the tabernacle, was set forth the angels' at- 
tendance upon the church. They are servants to do good to the church ; 
and they are fellow-students with us. They study the mysteries of salvation, 
the beauty of God, the wonderful transcendent love, and grace, and mercy 
of God to his church, as it is in 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. ' The angels pry into the 


mysteries of salvation ; ' they are students \Yith us of those blessed mysteries. 
Something is revealed to them, some grace and mercy to the church, that 
they knew not before experimentally. 

And it is beautiful likewise in regard of the church itself. The people of 
God themselves are beautiful ; for order is beautiful. Now it is an orderly 
thing to see many together to submit themselves to the ordinance of God. 
' The glory of a king is in the multitude of subjects,' Prov. xiv. 28 ; and 
it is a glorious thing for God to have many subjects meekly meeting to- 
gether to attend his pleasure. An army is a beautiful thing, because of the 
order, and of the well disposed ranks that are within it. In this regard the 
church is beautiful. 

That which makes the house of God beautiful more especially, is the 
means of salvation : not only God's presence, but the means, solemn and 
public prayer, the word and sacraments, and likewise the government, that 
should be in purging the church, — all make the church of God beautiful 
and lovely. All the ordinances of God in the church of God have a dehght 
in th«m to spiritual senses. 

1. As for the ordinance of the ivord, it is wondrous delightful, 'sweeter 
than the honeycomb,' Ps. xix. 10, especially the ordinance unfolding the 
word, the word as it is preached, which is the ' opening of the box.' A 
box of sweet ointment, if it be not opened, it casts not a sweet savour all the 
house over ; but when the box is opened, the savour comes over all the 
house. So the publishing of the word in the ordinance, is the opening of 
the box, the lifting up of the brazen serpent. If the serpent were [not] 
lift up for the wounded person, he could not behold it. Now [that] Christ 
is lift up in the ordinance, every wounded soul may look to Christ. The 
preaching of the word, is the lifting up of the banner of Christ's love. As 
it is in the Canticles, Christ's love as a banner draws all after him. When 
the beauty of Christ is unfolded, it draws the wounded, hungry soul unto 
him. The preaching of the word doth that that shews the sweet love of 
God in Jesus Christ. This makes the ordinance of the ministry so sweet. 
The ordinance of the ministi-y is that that distributes the portion to every 
child of God. The ministers of God are stewards, as it were, to distribute 
comfort and reproof to whom it belongs. Now where there is a convenient 
distributing of the portion to every one, that makes the ordinance of God so 
beautiful, when the waters of life are derived from the spring of the 
Scriptm-e to every particular man's use. The word, in the application ot 
it, is a sweet thing. For good things, the nearer they are brought home, 
the more delightful they are. This ordinance of preaching, it lays open the 
' riches of Christ.' There may be a great deal of riches wrapped up in a 
treasuiy, but this opens the treasury, as St Paul saith, ' to lay open the 
unsearchable riches of Christ,' Eph. iii. 8. The ministry of the word is 
ordained to lay open the treasure to God's people, that they may know 
what riches they have by Christ ; and the end of the ministry is to \^^n the 
people's love to Christ. Therefore they come between the bride and bride- 
groom to procure the marriage ; therefore they lay open that that procures 
\he contract here, and the consummation in heaven ; so to woo for Christ, 
md ' beseech them to be reconciled to God,' 2 Cor. v. 20. This is the 
end of the ministry. This makes the church of God so beautiful, that it 
hath this ordinance in it, to bring God, and Christ, and his people together : 
to contract them together. There be rich mines in the Scripture, but they 
must be digged up. The ministry serves to dig up those mines. God 
hath therefore set apart this calling of the ministry, to shew what belongs 


to God's people. Thus 3'ou see in this respect, of the ordinance of the 
ministry, God is beautiful in his house. 

2. Then likewise for the other ordinance, the sacrament, it is a sweet and 
delifjhtj'ul thing. There is a wondrous beauty in the sacrament ; for there- 
in we taste the love of God, and the love of Christ. That they would 
condescend so low, as to seal our faith with the sacrament, to help our souls 
by our bodies, by outward things ; to help our souls by that that feeds our 
bodies, to teach us what feeds our souls, namely, the death of Christ, as satis- 
fying divine justice, — the thinking and digesting of this is wondrous com- 
fortable, as any food is to the body, and incomparably more sweet, considering 
our continual necessity to relish that spiritual food, and our daily sins and 
breaclies, that enforce a daily necessity to relish Christ. That God should 
appoint such means, that he should in the sacrament feed us with his own 
body and blood. He thought he could not manifest his love enough, unless 
he had told us that he would give himself to us, and make over himself 
wholly to us : You shall have me, my body and blood; as in the sacrament 
we are as verily partakers of the body and blood of Christ, as we are of the 
bread and wine. Cm* souls have as much spu'itual growth by Christ, and 
his benefits, as our bodies have by the outward elements. He feeds us 
with himself ; he esteems and prizeth our souls that are bought with his 
blood, so that he thinks no food good enough but his own body and blood. 
What a gracious sweet love is this ! He is both the inviter and the banquet, 
and all. He invites us to himself. 

8. There is a loveliness likewise in all other ordinances that belong to the 
church ; as in the good order and government of the church, in purging the 
church of offenders ; the discipline that is in the church, which is as the 
snuffers in the sanctuary to purge the lights ; so that there should be a 
casting out of persons that are openly scandalous. The lights should be 
purged, the temple should be cleansed, scandals should be removed, that 
God's house might be the more beautiful. They are blemishes of God's 
house, open swearers and blasphemers. Those that Uve in scandalous 
sins, they are spots in the assembly, they are leaven, and this leaven should 
be purged out ; and where there is the vigour of this, there is a great beauty 
of the church. "Where these things are looked to as they should be, they 
are the bonds, and nerves, and sinews that knit and tie a church together. 
It makes a chui-ch wondrous lovely, the neglect of which makes the church 
as a garden overgrown. So you see how, in respect of the ordinances of 
the word, and of the sacrament, and this government that should be, that 
the house of God is a beautiful place. 

4. Then again, it is a comfortable, a sweet and delightful thing, the 
praises of God. It is a marvellous sweet thing, when all as one man hear 
together, pray together, sing together hymns, and spiritual songs, and praise 
God together, and receive the sacrament together, all as one man, — what a 
comely thing is this to a spiritual eye ! Every Christian hath a beauty 
severed in himself ; but when all meet together, this is more excellent. As 
we say of the via lactea, or milky way in the heavens (we call it so), it is 
nothing but a deal of light fi-om a company of little stars, that makes a 
glorious lustre. So if there be a beauty in every poor Christian, what a 
beauty is there when all meet together ! A beauty, nay, strength too , 
for the prayer and the praise of such, they offer a holy violence to God, 
they can obtain anything at his hands. We see burning glasses, when there 
is a confluence, and meeting of divers beams in one point, it strengthens 
the heat, and inflames a thing ; so when there ai"e many sweet desires meet 


together, many strong desires of spiritual things, they bind God, There is 
not only beauty but strength in the prayers of the church. They are in 
Christ's own esteem comeliness. He loves to see his church, especially when 
they are together. ' Let me see thy face, and hear thy voice, thou that hidest 
thyself in the clefts of the rock,' Cant. ii. 14. He marvellously desires to 
see his children, and to hear them speak, especially when they present 
themselves before him. Harmony is a sweet and pleasant thing. The 
comparing of the state of the church in former times with the present, is a 
harmonious thing. Da\dd, he lived under the Old Testament, and yet he 
saw under that the Nev/, so we should see the Old in the New, compare 
them together, . to see shadows in substances, types in truths. So that 
there is nothing in the church, but it gives special delight. 

5. God's beauty likewise appears, his gracious, amiable, sweet beauty, 
in his house, his church in regard of the evidences of his love that he hears to 
his church, in protecting it, and providing for it. ' They shall not need a 
wall,' saith he in Zechariah, ' I will be a wall of fire,' Zech. ii. 5. God 
hath a special care of his congregation. ' God dwells in the congregation 
of the righteous,' Ps. Ixxxii. 1. He hath his dwelling, his special residence 
there, where his name is called on. This will appear more if we see all the 
sweet privileges aud comforts that are in the house of God. God is not 
only beautiful in himself, but in regard of the privileges that the church 
hath from him. For all our beauty and excellency is borrowed. The 
church shines in the beams and beauty of Christ. Now these privileges 
that the church hath by Christ, to name a few. (1.) We see in the golden 
chain of salvation, what sweet, amiable love is in all those Hnks; as what 
a wondrous sweet love of God is it. (2.) To call men out of the wilderness of 
the world, out of the kingdom of Satan, to be his children ! A marvellous 
love to single us out of the rest of mankind to be Christians, and being 
Christians, to be professors of the truth, and being so, to be true professors 
of the truth. What a wondrous love of God was it to call us, and thereby 
to have the eternal purpose of God opened to us. As when we are drawn 
to God by his Spirit and by the ministry, then the good pleasure of God, 
that was hid from eternity, is discovered to the soul. Here is the amiable 
love of God. 

(3.) And then in the pardon, and forgiveness of sins, and justification after 
— what a wondrous grace is that forgiveness of sins, and adoption to be the 
sons and heirs of God, ' fellow-heirs with Jesus Christ,' Eom. viii. 17, and 
thereupon to have angels our attendants. What beauty have we in justifi- 
cation, to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ; that perfect righteous- 
ness, that can answer the justice of God much more Satan's cavils and the 
troubles of our own consciences. That that satisfieth the justice of God, 
being the righteousness of God-man, it will satisfy conscience, and Satan's 
temptations. It is a garment without spot. Satan can pick no hole in 
that glorious garment, the righteousness of Christ. If we have the ward- 
robe of Christ, we shall be beautiful in that we have from Christ, we shall 
shine in his beams. 

(4.) So go to sanctifcation. How amiable is God in the privilege of sanc- 
tification, to set his image upon us, to make us new creatures, to be like his 
Son, that before were like the devils, full of maUce and base affections. 
Now for God by his Spirit to frame a new temple for his Spirit to dwell 
in, to set his stamp upon us, what a wondrous beauty is this ! The 
church of God is the house where God frameth new creatures. There he 
sets a stamp upon his creatures. 


The graces that belong to the church of God are wondrous delight. 

* Wisdom makes a man's face to shine,' Eccles. viii. 1 ; and there is no 
wisdom out of ihc church. All is but darkness and foil}'. So of all other 
graces whatsocw r. Graces are the anointing of the Spirit, the oil of the Spirit. 
They make sweet and delightful, delightful to God, and to the church, 
and to one another. They are anointed with the oil of gladness and of 
grace. It ran fii-st upon Christ's head, upon Aaron's head, but then upon 
the skirts, the meanest Chi-istian. 

And so the beginning of gloiy here ; for all is not kept for the life to 
come. For God distils some drops of glory beforehand. We see the 
beauty of God here, marvellously even in this world, in regard of the be- 
ginning of glory. For upon justification, and the beginning of holiness 
wi'ought in our natm-e by the Spirit, we have inward peace of conscience, 
and joy and comfort in all discomforts whatsoever. We have not only the 
oil of gi-ace, but the oil of comfort. Oh ! the comfort of the children of 
God, that are members of the churchj that are so in the church, that they 
are of the church too, that are of the church visible, so as they are of the 
church invisible. Oh ! the comfort that belongs to them, all the comfort 
in God's book. So you see the v^^ondi'ous sweet prerogatives and privileges 
we have in all the passages of salvation in the house of God, and in God 
reconciled in Jesus Christ. 

Nay, God is so lovely to those that are his, his church and people, he is 
so good to Israel, that he makes everything good to them in the issue. 

* All things work for the best to them that love God,' Kom. viii. 28, in the 
issue. He makes a covenant between eveiything. So that all the en- 
deavours of Satan and his instruments, all then- plottings, shall turn for 
the good of the church. When they think to do most hurt, they do most 
good ; so sweet, and good, and gracious is God. 

Indeed, 'glorious things are spoken,' Ps. Ixxxvii. 3, of the people of God. 
Take the chui-ch for a visible congi-egation, a mixed congregation ; glorious 
things are spoken of that. It is the house of God. Take it as visible, ' the 
vessels of honour and dishonour,' 2 Tim. ii. 20, and the field, the ' tares and the 
wheat,' Mat. xiii. 1, seq., it is God's field. Though we take the church as 
visible, it hath a glorious name for the good that is in it, specially for the 
wheat. But take the church of God for the company of his children that are 
gathered by the means dwelling in the visible church, enjoying the visible 
means : so they are the house and temple of Christ, the ' temple of the Holy 
Ghost, the body of Christ, the spouse of Chi-ist.' They are God's delight, 
they are spiritual kings and priests, &c. The most glorious things that 
can be, all other excellencies in the world, are but titular things, mere 
shadows of things. There is some little reality, but it is nothing in com- 
parison, it is scarce worth the name of reaUty, but Solomon calls them ' vanity 
of vanities.' In comparison of the excellencies of the church all is nothing. 
I might be large in these particulars. It is enough to give you the gene- 
rals of the dehghts and excellencies of God's house, ' the beauty of the 
Lord.' We see amiableness of God in Christ, in his ordinances, the pri- 
vileges that we have in the ordinances, graces, and comforts. Indeed the 
church of God, beloved, is a paradise. Since we were cast out of the fii'st 
paradise, this second paradise is the church of God, and the thii-d is heaven 
itself. This paradise, this chm-ch, it is the seminaij* of young plants, 
that must be transplanted hence to heaven in due time. In paradise there 
was the tree of life, Gen. iii. 22 ; in the church, there is the tree of life, 
* Tliat is, ' seed- plot.' — G. 


Chi'ist. In paradise there was waters, streams, the rivers of paradise, 
Gen. ii. 10 ; so there ' is a river that makes glad the city of God,' Ps. xlvi. 
4, streams of grace and comfort that run through the church of God. 

In the church we are as plants by the rivers of waters, that bring forth 
fruit in due season, as it is in Ps. i. 3, seq. Speaking of blessed men that 
live in the church, ' Blessed is the man that meditates in the word day and 
night,' that attends upon the ordinances. He is ' planted as a tree by the 
waters' side,' his leaf is alway green. What food to that food that is mi- 
nistered to us in the word, and sacraments — Christ himself to feed us to 
life eternal ! And what raiment to the raiment of justification ; for Christ 
to clothe these poor souls of ours, poor, naked, beggarly souls ! What 
riches to the riches of God's graces and comforts ! What strength to that 
that is in the church, to overcome our own corruptions and lusts ! What 
beauty to'the image of God shining and stamped on his children ! What 
company so sweet, as those that we meet with in the earth, in good exercises, 
and that we shall live ever with in heaven ! What company to God the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the angels, that we enjoy in the church! 
What discourse so sweet, as that of God, hearing him speak in his word, 
and us speaking to him by prayer, so that it is a resemblance of heaven 
upon earth, the church of God ! 

Therefore we should be in love with the beauty of God's temple and 
sanctuary. And the rather because all things now in this age of the church 
wherein we live are in a more glorious manner than in David's time. 
David when he saw the beauty of God's sanctuary, it was but in a shadow ; 
and when he looked upon the mercy-seat, then he did think of Christ, the 
true propitiatory, the true mercy- seat. When he looked on the high 
priest, he thought on Christ the true high priest. When he thought of 
Canaan, it put him in mind of heaven, whereof Canaan was a type. When 
he saw the sacrifices, he thought of the true sacrifice for our sins, Christ. 
When he thought of the oblations and incense, he thought of the sacrifice 
of thankfulness. When he thought of the passover, he thought of Christ 
the true passover, whose blood is sprinkled on our souls, that the destroy- 
ing angel hath nothing to do with us. He saw all in shadows ; we see 
them naked. So our condition is more glorious in this latter age of 
the church, than it was in David's time. Therefore our desu-es should be 
more stirred up; for instead of the shadow we have the substance. Then the 
Spirit was but dropped, but the Father hath poured out the Spirit since 
Christ's time. Then the pale of the church was straitened, now it is en- 
larged. Then there was but one church, the national church of the Jews. 
Then the service of God was wondrous burdensome, and chargeable, but 
it is not so now. So that there be many difierences. All things are more 
lightsome and clear now than they were then. Therefore having many 
things to commend the frequenting of the congregation more than David 
had in his time, we should much more make this one thing our desire ' to 
dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of om- life, to beJiohl the beauty 
of the Lord.' 

Quest. If this be so, that there is such a beauty in the house of God, 
then what shall we think of those that see no such beauty at all, that see 
no such dehght and contentment in the house of God ? 

Ans. I answer, it is a discovery to them, if they would think of it, that 
they have vo spiritual senses at all; as St Austin saith of men that com- 
plain, that they do not taste and relish these things. Surely, saith he, 
thou wantest a spiritual palate to taste these things. What do swine care 


for sweet marjoram or roses ? They care more for a dunghill or a puddle. 
What do your base filthy swine in men's shape care for these things ? They 
care more for pleasures and such things, that they may spend their lives 
as beasts. Now when we speak of the delights, and dainties, and excel- 
lencies of God's house, we speak to those that we wish, and we hope have 
spiritual senses answerable to these things. Every creature delights in its 
proper clement. These things are the element of a Christian. Beetles 
delight in dirt, and swine in mire, the fish in the sea, man hath his element 
here, and spiritual things are the element of a Christian, so far as he is a 
Christian, and that is his uhi, the place that he delights in. I speak to 
such. They can make it good in some measure, that ' one day in the house 
of God is better than a thousand elsewhere,' Ps. Ixxxiv. 10, that one hour 
in the unfolding the sweet mysteries of salvation, it is worth twenty-four 
hours in other emplo3^ment ; and they are so taken with the sweetness, that 
they are content that God should take them out of the world, in the un- 
folding of these sweet things. When they hear the promises of salvation 
opened, though by a poor weak man, yet when it is in the ministry, it so 
ravisheth their hearts, that they are content to go to heaven at the same 
time ; it so convinceth them of the excellency of religion. I speak to such 
of the beauty of God. 

Now David here, he desires to behold God's beauty, to see or consider 
this excellency of God in his church, for to true delight these things must 
concur. There must be something sweet in the thing itself. There must 
be a power in the soul to apprehend it. There must be an affection in the 
soi\l to that good thing. If the afiection be flat, though there be never so 
beautiful and sweet things, and a power to apprehend them, if there be not 
afiection, they are nothing ; and then, upon the afiection, there must be 
complacency and contentment in the thing when we have it. All these 
things are in delight from that that is beautiful and pleasant, David desired 
to see. He knew there was a beauty in the presence of God in his ordi- 
nances and gifts and graces ; but he desired to see and to contemplate 
these things, that the faculties and powers of his soul might be answerable 
to the things, that as they were excellent, so he might have a power in his soul 
answerable. And then he had afi'ections to carry that power of his soul to 
the things, ' One thing have I desired.' And then there was a complacency 
and delight in the things, upon enjoining,* answerable, as we see how he ex- 
pressed his delight when he danced before the ark. We see what a psalm 
he made when he did but pui"j)ose ' to build the temple,' Ps. cxxxii. Ho 
had a wondrous joy. So answerable to our delights is our joy and com- 
placency in the thing when we have it. 

Now that he might have the sweeter complacenc}', he desired to see the 
beauty and the things in God's house. Of all senses, sight hath this pro- 
perty above the rest (as it is more spiritual, more refined, and more 
capable ; a man may see many things at once, it is a quick sense ; so), it 
hath this privilege, it stirs afi'ections more than any sense, more than hear- 
ing, that is a more dull sense. Things stir afi'ections more that are seen, 
than by that we hear. He desired therefore to see the beauty of God's 
house, that he might be enamoured. Of sight comes love. 

David had spiritual eyes, and he desired to feed his spiritual eye-sight 

with the best object that could be, for therein is the happiness of man. 

'^^^lerein stands a man's happiness ? "WTien there is a concun-ence of the 

most excellent object, with the most excellent power and faculty of tho 

* Qu. ' enjoying? ' — Ed. 


soul, with deligM and content in it. Now lie desired to see the beauty of 
God in his house, that his soul might be ravished in the excellency of the 
object, and that the highest powers of his soul, his understanding, will, and 
affections might be fully satisfied, that he might have full contentment. 
Since the fall, all our happiness is out of om-selves, it is derived from 
God in Christ ; and it is taken out of the promises of God in the word. 
For God will be seen in Christ, and God and Christ will be seen in the 
glass of the ordinances till we come to heaven, and there we shall see ' face 
to face,' 1 Cor. xiii. 12. So that now all our happiness is fetched by look- 
ing on the love of God, out of om*selves, fetched out of the ordinances. 
David desired to see the beauty of God. God's love is diffusive. It spreads 
and communicates itself to his church in the ordinances. Thus he, know- 
ing, desired more and more to communicate of this diffusive, abundant, 
transcendent love of God. 

Quest. But how shall we come to have these desires that David had, to 
see the beauty of God ? 

Aiis. In a word — we must have sphitxial senses. The spiritual life of a 
Christian is furnished with spiiitual senses. He hath a spiritual eye and a 
spiritual taste to relish spiritual things, and a spiritual ear to judge of holy 
things, and a spiritual feeling. As every life, so this excellent life hath 
senses and motion suitable to it. Now we should labour to have this 
spiritual life quickened in us, that we may have a quick sight of heavenly 
things ; and a taste of heavenly things, that we may smell the ointment of 
Christ. 'For the sweetness of thy ointments the virgins run after thee,' 
Cant. i. 3. The soul hath senses answerable to the body, let us desire God 
to cleanse all our senses, and to reveal himself in Christ more and more in the 

This St Paul calleth the ' Spirit of revelation,' Eph. i. 17. Let us praji 
to God that in his ordinances he would discover that amiable love of his in 
Christ, to shine on us in the face of his Son, in his ordinances ; for the 
Spirit must help us to see the beauty of God. When we have spiritual 
senses, except the Spirit give us a spiritual Ught to see, we cannot see. 
Therefore let us desire that God would give us spiritual senses, to the 
spiritual light. 

When God made the world, light was the first creature. Why ? That 
all the excellency of the creature might be discerned by light. If God had 
made never so many excellent creatures, if the light had not discovered 
them, where had been his glory '? So there are many excellent, beautiful 
things in Christ, wonderful grace and comfort ; if these be discovered in 
the word and we have no senses, and no light, if there be not light in the 
understanding, God shall want his glory, and we the comfort. 

It is light that makes things that are beautiful to be beautiful to us. A 
blind man cannot judge of colours, nor a deaf man of sounds and harmony. 
A man that hath lost his taste cannot judge of sweetness, so that there 
must be senses, and the Spuit of God must reveal these things unto us. 

And likewise let us labour more and more to see our own deformity, and 
then we shall see Christ's beauty, the more ice desire to know our own vilcness. 
Indeed the Spirit of God carries these parallel one with another. He dis- 
covers by the same light our own deformity and necessity, and the beauty and 
excellency of God in Jesus Christ. The one will set an edge on the other, and 
he that will come to see the height and breadth, and depth of God's love in 
Christ, must see the height, and breadth, and depth of his own corruption, 
and our misery by it out of Christ. And thev are good thoughts for us. 


every day to think of these two objects, the misery of the condition of man 
out of Chiist, and the excellency now that we have in Jesus Christ ; the 
amiableness of Christ towards us, and our amiable condition in him. He 
delights in us, as we delight in him. The consideration of this, and of 
the loathsome, terrible, fearful condition out of him, will keep us closer to 
Christ, and make us value the ordinances more, that we may grow up in 
faith and knowledge of Chiist more and more, till we come to a fulness in 

And present to the eye of our souls, God in Christ in the relations he 
hath taken upon him, to be a Father in Christ. Let us make that benefit 
of this beauty that is presented to us in the gospel, especially when it is un- 
folded in the ministry, because Satan hath a special policy to present God 
and Christ otherwise to us. Especially in the time of temptation, he presents 
God as a judge, sitting upon his throne, and God as a ' consuming fire,' 
Heb. xii. 29. It is true he is so out of Christ, but in him he hath taken the 
relation of a father, and looketh on us sweetly in the relation of sons. 
Christ must be considered in the sweet relation of a Saviour, and the Holy 
Ghost in the sweet relation of a comforter ; and the word is all written for 
our comfort, if we believe, and the sacraments feed us to eternal life. Let 
ns represent these things beautifully to the soul, and this will strengthen 
faith, and cherish afiection, that Satan shall not rob us of our comfort, nor 
say to us, what do you, ye unclean persons, loathsome creatures, what do 
you come to the sacrament, and come to the holy things of God ? It is 
true, if we mean to be so still, but as soon as ever the desire of our souls is 
to come to God, and that there is a divorce between us and our sins, and we 
desire to leave them, let us have all the sv^eet conceits of God that maybe. 
We see in Revelations, Laodicea was lukewarm, and that is a hateful tem- 
per. * Behold,' saith he, ' I stand and knock, if any man open to me, I 
will come, and sup with them,' Rev. iii. 20. A strange love, to come to 
them that were in such a lukewarm estate. He was ready to cast them 
out. His stomach was loaden mth them. ' I stand at the door and 
knock,' 3'et if any of you lukewann professors vrill open, I will come and 
6up with him, and refresh him with the refreshings of God. So in Cant, v., 
when the chm-ch shghted Christ and offended him, yet he woos his church. 
' My locks are wet with the dev\^ of the night,' Cant. v. 2. Oh ! marvellous 
patience, that notwithstanding her lukewarmness and neglect, yet Christ 
gives not over ! Let us not entertain hard conceits of God in Christ, but 
labour to present them sweetly to our meditations. 

This is the wisdom of a Christian, to have sights of faith, that is, to pre- 
isent several things that faith may work on to strengthen itself, as for faith 
to have a sight of God in Christ, a gracious Father ; and to have a spiritual 
sight of Christ sending ambassadors wooing and beseeching us to be re- 
conciled ; and a sight of the joys of heaven, that we shall have full posses- 
sion of after. Let us think of them, and present them to om- souls ; and 
present to our souls by meditation, the excellency, and royalty, and prero- 
gative of God's children, that they are the most excellent people in the 
world. These sights that faith helps itself b}', are an excellent means to 
make us in love with the beauty of God's house. But to answer two or 
thi'ee objections briefly before I proceed to more particulars. 

Ohj. Some will object, what need we now in these glorious times of the 
church stand upon the ordinances so much? Indeed in darker times there 
was more need, &c. 

Alls. I will not be large, but to answer in a word. The more Gud dis- 


covers himself, and his excellent things here, the more ice should eoqvess our 
thankfulness in labouring to grow in knowledge ; for there is such a breadth 
in them, that we can never have enough of them, and there is such a daily 
exigence of spiritual things, of comforts and graces, that are all conveyed in 
the use of means, that a Christian cannot bo without them ; he can no more 
be without the use of the ordinances than he can without his daily 

Olij. Oh ! but what need we be so eager and earnest after these things 
as some are ? Is not now and then enough ? 

Ans. Are we better than David? See how earnest he was, Ps. 
Ixxxiv. and Ps. xlii. ' As the hart panteth after the rivers of water, so my 
soul thirsteth after thee, God,' Ps. xlii. 1, Ixxiv. 2. For there is a 
presence of God in his ordinances that other men are not sensible of. 
There is a presence to their spirits that they feel that they marvellously 
love, and are affected with. And if they want the presence of God, as 
David here, they are wondrously discouraged. As good Nehemiah, when 
he heard it went not well with the church, he gi'ew sad; and David, we see 
how he takes it here when he was banished, as it were, from the house and 
ordinances of God. But I will not stand long upon these objections. 

Obj. Some think they may as well read at home good books and sermons, 
and not come to the ordinances. 

Ans. But David loved the ordinances ; he loved the j)lace. Might not he 
think of what he heard before ? might not he have help of the prophets ? 
Oh ! but there is a blessing in the very meeting, ' Where two or three are 
met together, I will be in the midst of them,' Mat. xviii. 20. And Christ 
walks in the midst ' of the golden candlesticks,' Kev. i. 12. There is a 
more powerful, gracious presence in the very assemblies of God's people. 
Put case thou mayest do much good in private, with contempt of the public 
ordinance ; it is a cursed study. Like manna that did stink when it was 
gathered out of season. When it was gathered when it should not, it 
putrefied. There is a curse upon that study, and upon that knowledge 
that we get when we should attend upon the public means. For it is 
not knowledge that will bring to heaven, for the devil hath that, but it is 
knowledge sanctified, seizing upon the affections. Now, what is it that 
maketh us good ? The Spirit working with the ordinance ; and will the 
Spirit work when we neglect the ordinance ? It is but a pretence. They 
spend their time otherwise, it is to be feared not so well. But put the case 
they should, there never comes good of it. It may enrich them in know- 
ledge to grow more devilish ; but more holy they cannot be, for holiness 
comes from the Spirit, and the Spirit will work by his own ordinances. So 
much for that, and of all other objections in regard of the beauty of God. 

I will not raise any objections, but only answer those that commonly 
popish spirits trouble some withal. I will answer, I say, some of them 

Obj. They trouble us about our churches. Indeed, if your particular 
churches were churches of God, if you could make that good, then you 
might delight in them, but you are heretics and schismatics ; your churches 
are not good churches. Thus they trouble good Christians that are of the 
simpler sort; especially with this, where was your church a hundred years 
ago ? before Luther's time ? (d) Your church is an upstart, and your con- 
gregations are nothing but a meeting of a company of heretics together.^ 

* Tlie commonplaces of the popish controversy. Consult Faber's ' Difficulties of 
Eomanism.' — G. 


Avs. Beloved, that that makes a church to be a catholic church., to he a 
brunch of the catholic church, -which we beheve in the creed, it is the 
catholic faith. The faith and truth that is the seed of the church, it is be- 
gotten of the word of God. Wheresoever the word, the cathohc truth of 
God, is, there is the church, a branch of the catholic church. Now our 
faith that we believe hath consanguinity with the first churches ; for what 
do we believe, but it is fetched out of the Testament, and from the primi- 
tive church ? And indeed in their own confession, if they would be modest, 
that might be extorted from them, that we are more catholic, and our 
doctrine is more cathohc than theirs. Why ? For that that agrees with 
the ancient trath, ' and faith once given,' as St Jude saith, ver. 3, it runs 
through all ages ; and that wherein we agree with them is more agreeable 
and catholic than that they hold severed fi'om us. It is more catholic in regard 
of all times, before Christ, and in Christ's time, and in the apostles' times ; 
and that that the papists themselves hold with us, is more cathohc than that 
they hold severed. Now wherein they differ from us, and we account them 
heretics, they differ fi'om the Scriptm-es, and from the chm'ch sis hundred 
years after Christ ; and many of them are of late standing. Therefore in 
those tenets of ours we agree with the papists, and with the primitive 
church. W^hat do we hold but they hold? But they add traditions that are 
pernicious. We hold the Scriptures. They hold that, and traditions too. 
We hold two sacraments. They add five more. We hold Christ to be 
the Mediator. They make saints mediators too. Whatsoever we hold 
they hold, but they add their own patcheries* to them. Therefore our 
doctrine is more catholic, because we have the evidence of Scripture for all 
ours, and we have them to justify om's ; and wherein they differ from us, 
they have neither Scripture nor antiquity ; but they are only a company, a 
mass of things of their own. But I will not be much in this point. And 
then, say they, where was your church before Luther's time, and two 
hundred years ago ? Where was it ? Where their church was. Our 
church was amongst them, in the midst of them. Witness their fire and 
inquisition, and persecution ! They found out oui* church well enough. 

But to make it a little clearer. The church of God, take it in general 
for good and bad in it, and for the means of salvation that they had in 
some measm'e, it may be called a kind of visible church, though veiy cor- 
ruptly ; and so considered, our church, those that possessed our rehgion, 
was the best of that chm'ch in the declining times of it. As in a lump of 
gold that is not yet refined to bullion there is gold, and a gi'eat deal of 
earth: take it in the whole, we say it is gold; but when it is refined to bul- 
lion, we say it is gold severed. Now our chm'ch in the midst of popery 
was as gold in the midst of earth unrefined ; that is, there weref many Romish 
Churches, and ours was in the midst of them, the temple in the midst of 
the court ; that is, the tnie church in the visible chmxh. There were a great 
company that held the tenets of the gospel, especially at the hom-s of death, 
that denied popery. But then there were some that were refined as bullion 
after, as the Waldenses,^ that were a severed company of people, besides 
other holy men and women that gi'ew up b}' hearing somewhat of Christ 
in their sermons, and somewhat in the sacrament. They left out that that 
was bad, and took that that was good. Besides the lump of gold, there was 
some refined gold, when popery was in its perfection ; and those they 
termed Waldenses, and the like. There was alway a company that held the 

* That is, ' patchwork,' = additions. — G. f Misprinted ' was.' — G. 

X Consult Stanley Faber's 'Waldenses and Albigenses' — able and trustworthy. — Q. 

VOL. II. o 


truth against them. I am sorry to mention these things, in a point tend- 
ing more to edification. Our churches therefore are refined churches, that 
is, gold singled out of the dross of popery. They are a corrupt, and our 
church a refined, a visible congregation. 

Now to cut off these objections, to come nearer to ourselves, to make 
good our particular congregations, and to shew that of necessity we ought 
to frequent them, and to take heed of all objections that the devil and the 
flesh may make to bring us out of love with our particular congregations, 
know therefore these three or four rules in a word. 

First, that there hath been a church from the beginning qf the world, where 
God hath been xvorshipped. Christ is a King, and he must have a kingdom. 
To believe a catholic church is an article of our faith, and there cannot be 
an act without an object. I have faith, I believe a visible church, therefore 
there must be a church. So that there hath been a chm-ch from the be- 
ginning of the world. It is an article of our faith. * 

Secondly, the mark whereby this church is known is esjjecially the truth 
of God. That is the seed of the church, the truth of God discovered by 
his word and ordinance. To which is annexed the sacraments and ecclesi- 
astical government ; but the former most necessary. And these three were 
typified in the ark ; for there was the law signifying the word, and the pot 
of manna signifying the sacrament, and the rod to shew the discipline. 
Those three were, as it were, types of the three marks of the church. But 
especially the word. For that is the seed of the new birth. Wheresoever 
the word hath been published, and there hath been an order of teachers, 
and people submitting themselves, there is a church, though perhaps there 
might be some weakness in other regards. A man is a man though he 
want the ornaments of a man ; and a city without walls is a city. Put case 
there might be some wealmess in some things, yet as long as the vitals of 
the church remain it is a church. 

The third thing that I observe, to clear this point, to hasten to things of 
more edification, is this, abuse takes not aivay the use. A neglectful use or 
abuse takes not away the true use of things. Put case the Scripture be 
abused many ways, that the sacraments have many additions, that these 
things are not so pure ; yet it takes not away the just use ; for then we 
take away the cause of things. Then the conclusion of all is this, that of 
necessity, notwithstanding somewhat may be found fault with in all visible 
chm-ches, some errors there may be ; yet we ought to cleave to a visible 
church, because it hath been alway, and we ought to know it by these 
marks. If the word of God be taught there, then of necessity we must 
cleave to it. ' God added to the chm-ch such as should be saved,' Acts ii. 
47, to the visible church. Those that are saved must be saved in submis- 
sion to the visible church. But these things I list notf to be large in. 
This may give satisfaction. 

Use 1. If this be so, that we ought to submit to the ordinance of God in 
the visible church, to come into the ark as it were (the visible church is callerl 
the ark), or else we must be drowned and ■perish, ivhat shall we think then of 
those that are cast out of the ch urch by excommunication (but that is for their good) ? 
But their case is very ill, because they are cut ofi"from the house and beauty 
of God. Their case is miserable. But it is worse with those that depart out 
of themselves, as apostates, &c. Some are cast out, some are apostates and 
go out. They fall away from the church of God to the Romish strumpet, 

* Consult Pearson, and also John Smith, in loc. — G. 
t That is. ' choose not.' — G. 


to Babylon ; bcinj,' Jazzlrcl with the pomp of that church, not seeing the 
spiritual beauty ot" the ordinances of God with us. What think we of those 
that ought to join with visible congregations, that excommunicato them- 
selves -willingly, such as schismatics, and such profane separatists, that 
when they may, will not ; partly because they will not have their con- 
sciences awaked, and partly because they will give liberty to the ftesh to 
other things at that time. Some are cast out, and some go out, some ex- 
communicate themselves. They ai'e of the disposition of the devils, that 
will not be ' tormented before their time,' Mat. viii. 29. They think they 
shall hear somewhat that will awake their conscience, and they are very 
unwilling to have conscience awaked, but they will have all their torment 
at once. All these are in a woeful condition. If the gracious presence of 
God be in the church above all other places in the world (as we see David 
desired ' to dwell in the house of God, that he might see the beauty of God') 
if there be a beauty in the divine ordinances, how miserable are those 
that are cast out, or that go out ! that rent themselves from the chm'ch, or 
willingly excommunicate themselves like wild creatures ? They are worse 
than Cain. He grieved when he was to depart the presence of God. He 
fell into a desperate temper. They are worse than he, that when they 
have the hberty of the ordinances of God, they go on in a wild licentious 
course, and neglect all means that God hath sanctified to bring them to 

Use 2. But to come nearer, to make an use of trial, how shall ice know 
whether we have benefit by, and whether ive he trubj in love with, the beautij of 
God's house or no, because many come hither ? As in Noah's ark there were 
beasts that were clean and unclean, so there are many that come to the 
visible congregations ; they are in the church (as excrements are in the 
body), but they are not of it. 

To know therefore whether we come to purpose, and heartily love the 
beauty of God in his ordinances, and comforts and gi-aces, as David did 
here or no, we may know it easily, for sight, as I said before, it ivorhs 
affection. "We may know by om' affection whether we see the excellency of 
God or no in his ordinances. There is no sense that stii's up affection 
answerable to sight ; the affection of love especially. 

How shall we know that we love the ordinances of God ? 

That is an affection that of all others is least to be concealed. "What we 
love we will boldly profess ; we will joy and delight in it if we have it. You 
see how David joyed in the ordinance of God, how he danced before the 
ark. There was no joy that he had comparable. He preferred it before 
all other joy that he had whatsoever. It was a transcendent joy. And 
what we love and delight in we meditate much on. ' Oh how I love thy 
law ! my meditation is on it continually,' Ps. cxix. 97. Om- minds \vill 
run on it. Therefore we are exhorted to think of the word of God, to have 
it before our eyes, to have it written before us in our courses, that we may 
meditate upon it at home and abroad. Moses he gave those helps. ^Vhere 
there is love there is meditation. Those that love the good things of God, 
their minds wiU be often on them. 

Again, there will be zeal for the holy things of God. A man will not 
endure them to be disgraced, but he will have a good word to speak in the de- 
fence of God's ordinances, of holy things and rehgion. Those that suffer 
religion to be betrayed in the company of base carnal people, they have 
never seen the beauty of God's house ; [they] that have not a word to say. 
Those that have seen God's beauty, and felt the comfort of the delights of 


God's house, they are able to justify it against all opposers whatsoever, 
that there is good to be taken and done there, by their own experience, by 
the comfort they have felt. They will be able to tell others what ' the Lord 
hath done for their souls,' Ps. Ixvi. 16, and in their souls, what graces they 
have been strengthened in, what comfort they have felt. They can dis- 
cover this, and can justify all the ordinances of God from their own ex- 
perience. Do not we see daily under the ordinance of God by weak men, 
the blind see, the spiritually deaf hear, the spiritually dumb be able to 
speak, to pray to God ; the dead, those that are dead in sin, they receive 
life. Do not all these justify the excellency of God's ordinance, which gives 
spiritual life, and spiritual senses ? Those therefore that have been dead 
in former time in sinful courses, and have found the power of God's Spirit 
with his ordinances, they are able to justify it. Those that are not able to 
justify these things by some experience, they never felt any good by them. 
By these and the like evidences, we may try the truth of our affection, 
whether we have seen this beauty or no to purpose. 

Quest. If we find that we have little comfort and strength by the word of 
God, that we have not seen the beauty of it, what shall we do, what course 
shall we take ? 

Am. 1. Wait still. Wait still at the pool for the angel's stirring, John 
V. 4 ; for God at length will discover his power by his Spirit ; he will dis- 
cover his goodness, if not at the first, yet at length. Therefore let us use 
all sanctified means. And know this for a rule, that God's Spirit is an ex- 
cellent worker. He will only work by his own instruments. 

2. And come to the ordinances icith a spirit of faith, because they are God's 
ordinances. God will discover himself in some excellency or other; he will 
discover some comfort and gi'ace, somewhat that is useful to our souls to build 
us up to eternal life. Let us come with a particular faith that he will do so. 
Faith must answer God's promise. God hath promised, ' where two or 
three are met together in his name, he will be in the midst of them.' He 
hath made a promise to bless all his ordinances. Therefore let our par- 
ticular faith answer God's ordinances. Lox'd, I go to thy house to hear 
thy word, to receive thy sacrament in thy fear, in reverence of thy majesty, 
and in a spirit of faith, I expect thee to make good thy own ordinance. 
This brings a marvellous efficacy with it. If we go with a particular faith, 
know that God will be as good as his word. This course we must take to 
see the beauty of the Lord. 

3. And then, as I said before, often let our thoughts he iqwn these spiritual 
excellencies. Let us balance and weigh things in our thoughts. Love comes 
from judgment, love comes from an esteem of things, of the goodness of 
things, and that comes from a right judgment. Let us therefore labour to 
have a right judgment of things to be as they are. Solomon was the wisest 
man, next to him that was God-man, that ever was, and he knew what 
spiritual things were, and what all other things in the world were, and what 
verdict doth he give ? This is the whole man, ' to fear God and keep his 
commandments, Eccl. xii. 13. And how doth he commend wisdom in Prov. 
viii. 1, seq. All precious things are nothing in comparison of the wisdom 
of God's word. But what saith he of other things ? He that had run 
through all things by experience, and thought to extract the quintessence of all 
that the creature could give, he saith they were but ' vanity and vexation 
of spirit,' Eccles. i. 2 ; trust my experience. Therefore let us be able to 
lay in the balance the good that we got or may get by the blessed ordi- 
nances of God, with other things whatsoever. Oh iJae beautv and excel- 


lency of spiritual things, it is above all other beauty whatsoever ! Alas ! 
what is outward beauty ? it is but a lump of well-coloured earth.* What is 
gold, and all the lustre of it ? It is but earth refined. And what are all 
honours and goodly delights that way ? It is but a puflf of smoke, it is 
nothing ; in one word, it is vanity, and expei'ience proves this every day. 
Oh ! but the ' word of the Lord endureth for ever,' 1 Pet. i. 25, that is, 
the comforts, and the privileges that we have by the word of God, they 
endure for ever ; and then more especially the comfort of them when out- 
ward comforts fail most, even upon our deathbed. When conscience is 
awakened then, and hath presented to it the former life, and the guilt of 
many sins, what will comfort a man then ? his goodly apparel, or his 
goodly featm-e, or his great place and honour? (Perhaps these will increase 
his grief as they have been instruments of sin.) Oh no ; this will do him 
good. Such a comfort I heard in such a sermon ; such good things I heard 
read, and such good things come to my mind ; such experience I have of 
God's Spirit working at such and such a time; these mil testify that God's 
Spu-it went with his ordinance to fasten somewhat on my soul, and they 
will comfort when nothing else will. 

Let us oft compare all other things with the beauty of God, and his 
ordinances, as if all were nothing to them. Thus holy Moses, he saw a 
beauty and a glory in the despised people of God that made brick ; he saw 
they were the people that God set his delight on, and that the church of 
God was there. When ho saw that, he despised all the glorj' of Pharaoh's 
court, and accounted the worst thing in religion, ' the reproach and shame,' 
better than all the pleasm-es of sin, Heb. xi. 23. Beloved, the bitterest 
things in the ordinance of God are better than any worldly thing. What 
is the bitterest thing in the ordinance of God ? Reproofs ! They are as 
precious balm. If the ordinance of God meet with our particular sins, and 
tell us, and discover to us what an enemy it is, that it will be the bane of 
our souls if we live in it, and it send us away to look to ourselves, this wiU 
be as a precious balm ; our souls will come to be saved by it. And if for 
religion we suller reproach and shame, it will be as a crown, as holy Moses 
accounted the reproach of Christ better than the treasures of Egypt, Heb. 
xi. 2G. If the worst and bitterest things in God's ordinance be so sweet, 
what are the best things of all ? The comforts of rehgion. What is the 
peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost, and eternal glory in heaven ? 
What are the excellencies of religion, when the shame and disgrace are to 
be preferred before all other things whatsoever ? 

So blessed St Paul, he weighed things after this fashion. He was an excellent 
man, and had excellent privileges to glory in. Oh but, saith he, I account 
all ' dung and dross ' in comparison of the excellent knowledge of Christ that 
he had, Phil. iii. 8. Our blessed Saviour, that was the most able of all to 
judge, he would have all ' sold for the pearl,' that is, for the field where the 
pearl is (e), to buy that, to get the ordinances of God. He accounts him a 
wise man that will sell all for that. And when Martha and Mary enter- 
tained him, Mary sat at his feet to hear him expound the truth of God ; 
' she chose the better part,' Luke x. 42, saith Chi'ist. If we will believe 
him * in whom all the treasures of wisdom are,' in his judgment, ' Mary 
chose the better part ; ' ' One thing is necessaiy,' saith he. He justified 
David's choice, * One thing have I desired;' and saith Christ, 'One thing is 
necessary.' All things in comparison of that are not necessary ; they 
may well enough be spared. Thus we see how we may come to love God 
♦ Seo note a, vol. I., p. 31.— G. 


in his ordinances, and to see the * beauty of hoUness,' the beauty of God 
in his sanctuary. 

4. And because there are two things needful to see a beauty, an object re- 
vealed, and a sight, let us desire God to reveal himself hi his ordinances to us 
more and more, and desire him to give us spiritual eyes more and more to 
see him. Sometimes he hides himself in his ordinances, that we cannot see 
the beauty of things. Let us therefore desire him to reveal himself, to take 
away that veil that is between us and holy things, and between us and 
grace, and comfort, that he would take away that spiritual veil, and reveal 
himself to us, and shine on us in Christ, that he would manifest his love to 
us, and give us spiritual eyes to see him. 

Prayer is an excellent means before we come ; and when we are there, 
and oft in attending on the ordinances, let us lift up our hearts to God to 
reveal his truths to us. 

There are many veils between us and holy things. Let us desire God 
to take them all away — of error, and ignorance, and unbelief — and to shine 
so clearly to us by his Spirit, that we may see him more clearly. And ob- 
jects have a special influence when they are clearly discerned. Now a man 
may more clearly see and feel God at peace with him by the Spirit, and 
clearly see and feel the comfort of forgiveness of sins, and of any promise 
that is unfolded ; and it hath a marvellous influence upon the afi'ections, 
to comfort and to breed peace and joy. And that is one sign that we profit 
by the ordinance of God, when it is so with us ; when we find an influence 
from the things, upon our daily prayers, to work peace and comfort, and 
spiritual strength against temptations and corruptions. All in the ordi- 
nance is by the power of the Spirit. Therefore we are to pray to God that 
he would join his Holy Spirit, that he would reveal his secrets to us, and 
with revelation work an influence into our souls, that there may be a dis- 
tilling of grace and comfort through the ordinances to our souls. Prayer 
must accompany the ordinances ; because the ordinance of itself is an 
empty thing unless the Spirit accompany it. 

To stir us up a little to this, more and more to see the beauty of God in 
his ordinances, to see the glory of God, as the Scripture speaks — indeed 
God is not only delightful and beautiful, but glorious in his ordinances ; 
and the ark is called the ' glory of God,' Esod. xl. 34; and the knowledge 
of God in Christ it is a glorious knowledge, and the gospel is called a 
'glorious gospel,' 1 Tim. i. 11 — this idll only* make us truly glorious. 
These things, they put a glory upon our souls. St Paul calls it * the 
glorious gi-ace,' Eph. i. 6. What a glorious thing is it when, by the ordi- 
nance of God, a weak man shall have power against the strong devil, against 
all the ' gates of hell,' Mat. xvi. 18 ; when a poor creature, ' flesh and 
blood,' by some virtue distilled through the ordinance by the Spirit of God, 
shall have such a strong faith in the promise of forgiveness of sins ; such 
a faith in the promise that all such f turn to his good ; that God is recon- 
ciled to him in Christ ; that all the gates of hell shall not prevail over a 
weak soul. And what a glorious grace is it when, by the use and attend- 
ance upon the ordinance of God, a poor soul shall have strength over these 
corruptions and sins that others are slaves to, and cannot get the victory 
over, that when they see the spiritual beauty in God's ordinances, they 
grow out of taste with all other things that others are besotted with, that 
are of more excellent natural parts than they, what a glory of grace is this ! 
Therefore let us with all fear and reverence attend upon the ordinances of 
* Tliat is, ' this only.'— G. f Qu- ' shall ?'— Ed. 


God, that God may be glorious in us by his Spirit, and strengthen us 
against Satan and our beloved corruptions. 

2. And let lis know what our souls were made for. What are our souls 
more for than to dwell in the meditation of the beauty of God ? What are 
our souls made for, but for excellent things ? and what is excellent but in 
God's ordinances ? Is the soul made to study debates and jars between 
man and man in our particular callings ? Is the soul made to get a little 
wealth, that we shall leave perhaps to an unthrifty generation after ? Are 
our souls, that are the most excellent things under heaven (the world is not 
worth a soul ; they are the price of the blood of the Son of God ; in his 
judgment the world is not worth a soul), are they for these things? No. 
They are for union and communion with God in his ordinances, to grow 
in nearer communion with God by his Spirit, to have more Imowledge and 
aflcction, more love and joy and delight in the best things daily. Our 
souls are for these things that will make us gracious here, and glorious for 
ever after in heaven. 

It is a great deordination,* when we study and care only for earthly 
things, and have slight conceits of those things that are incomparably the 
best things, in the judgment of God and of Chiist himself, and of Solomon, 
and of all good men. 

3. And the rather let us be stirred up to affect these things, lest God 
dejmrt from us. The glory of God departed out [of J the temple before the 
destruction of Jerusalem, Ezek. xi. 23 ; so the glory of God, that is, a 
visible sign of his glory, it departs from a church ; the beauty and excel- 
lency of God departs when we esteem them not. And if anything in the 
world make God to leave a church, as he loft the Jews, and as he may leave 
any particular church (he will alway have a catholic church in the world ; 
but he is not tied to England or France, or any country), if anything move 
him to this, it is because there is not a prizing of the heavenly things we 
have ; of the blessed liberty we have to meet God in his ordinances ; that 
we have not a care to improve these ordinances, to get grace and comfort 
against the evil day. For however we esteem these things, God sets a high 
price on them ; and if we do not, God will deprive us of them, or of the 
power and beauty of them. Therefore as we desire God to continue his 
ordinances, and his blessing, and power in his ordinances, let us improve 
them the best waj' to get gi'ace and comfort. He hath made a great pro- 
gress in religion, that hath gotten a high esteem and a sanctified judgment 
of the best things. Though perhaps he find himself dull and dead, and 
complain of it, yet when God shines so far that he is able to approve, and 
to justify the best things, that they touch his affections so much, that the 
bent of his soul is that way, and he cannot be long without them, and he 

'finds much comfort by them, though it be joined with much corruption, 
these things argue a good temper and frame of soul. 

And of all other dispositions of soul, let us preserve that spiritual dis- 
position of soul, whereby our soul is fitted to the things themselves. The 
things of God's Spirit are holy and excellent, when there is such a taste 
and relish wrought in the soul suitable to the things. There is a happy 
combination then. We may know there is a powerful work of the things 
upon the soul, for all gi'ace \vi-ought by the things of God, we may know it 
when the soul hath a suitable relish of them, and longs after them, and de- 
lights in them, and improves them to the best; and such a soul never wants 
evidence of a good Christian. Ask a Christian what is the best evidence of 
* That is. ' disordering;,' == placini; out of order. — G. 


salvation, and tliat you belong to God ? ' My sheep hear my voice,' John 
X. 4, saith Christ, ' and as children newborn, desire the sincere milk of the 
word, that ye may grow thereby,' 1 Pet. ii. 2. A man may know he is a 
true child of the church if he desire the sincere milk of the word, to grow 
better and more holy and comfortable. If he delight in the voice of God 
in the ministr}', and so be affected to the truth and ordinances of God, it 
is a comfortable character of a good Christian. There are more hidden 
evidences sometimes, but this for an ordinary evidence is a good one and 
comfortable. Davidmarvellously comforted himself with this. *0h! how do 
I love thy law,' Ps. cxix. 97. Oh ! that we could say as he did, ' Oh how do 
I love thy law, and love thy truth,' that we could wonder at our own affec- 
tions, that we could delight in this beauty of God, as David saith here, 
* One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I 
may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the 
beauty of the Lord,' &c. 



(a) P. 217. — ' Babylon was so taken,' &c. Consult Herodotus, I. 177, seq., with 
the annotations and illustrations of Kawlinson, in loc; also Xenophon, Cyrop. vii. 5. 
For very interesting explorations confirmatory of the fact cf. Kich, ' Babylon and 
Persepolis;' Ainsworth, 'Researches in Assyria;' and Chesney, 'Exped. for Survey 
of Euphrates.' It need hardly be stated that it was Cyrus who took Babylon in the 
manner referred to by Sibbes. 

{b) P. 226. — ' Particular visible churches are now God's tabernacle.' In a tract 
by Philip Nye, entitled ' The Lawfulness of the Oath of Supremacy, and Power of 
the King in Ecclesiastical Affairs ' (4to, 1683, p. 41), the above and otlier context is 
quoted. On the margin is placed ' Gospel Anointings,' which misled us into inquir- 
ing after such a book (of which none had ever heard) by Sibbes. Another tractate, 
by Bartlet, his ' Model of the Primitive Congregational Way' (4to, 1647), explains 
the mistake of Nye. The following was evidently his authority : — ' I shall produce 
only one more that was famous for his Gospell-anointings [in italics, the usual mode 
of exi^ressing quotations], and little thought by most men to have been of this judg- 
ment [in the margin here, "see Dr Sibbs"]. And yet you shall find in a little 
treatise of his (printed before these troubles brake forth in England), called A 
Breathing after God, that he speaks fully to this purpose, his subject leading him to 
discover himself herein, being, as I suppose, a little before his death.' Bartlet then 
quotes the passages to which the present note refers. The manner in which Nye 
was led into his mistake is quite apparent on an examination of Bartlet's tractate. 
Sibbes's name in the margin is exactly opposite the words ' his Gospell Anointings,' 
while the title of the book actually quoted does not apppear till several lines lower 
on the page. 

(c) P. 230. — ' As I have shewed out of that text, 2 Cor. iii. 18,' &c. The sermons 
here referred to comprise the second half of Sibbes's ' Excellency of the Gospel above 
the Law.' 18mo, 1639. 

{d) P. 240. — ' Where was your church before Luther ? ' &c. There have been 
many polemical answers to this taunting question. For thoroughness none perhaps 
excels the old Scottish tractate by Andrew Logie, ' Answer to the question. Where 
was your religion before Luther?' Aberdeen, 1634, 4to. 

(e) P. 245. — ' The field where the pearl is.' Either Sibbes uses pearl as = trea- 
sure, or here, and elsewhere, he makes a slip. It is ' treasure,' not a ' pearl,' that 
is hidden in the ' field.' — Mat. xiii. 44. G. 




' The Returning Backslider ' passed tlirough three editions, viz. : — 

(a) 1st, 1639, 4to, ) Portrait cetat 58 prefixed, without the verses. (See prefatory 

{b) 2d, 1641, 4to, / note to ' Bowels Opened.') 

(c) 3d, 1650, 4to. 

It will be remembered that it is on a copy of this work that Isaak Walton's memor- 
able couplet is found (Memoir of Sibbes, vol. i., page xx). Our text follows c. Its 
title-page is given below.* The ' Saint's Privilege ' therein mentioned is an ad- 
mirable little treatise on John xvi. 8-10, which will be included, with otlier of 
Sibbes's minor writings, in a subsequent volume. It will bo remembered that 
Bishop Eeyuolds also has a series of expository sermons on 14th chapter of Hosea^ 
entitled ' Israel's Prayer in Time of Trouble, with God's gracious Answer,' 4to, 1638. 


* Title-page : — 




upon the whole XIV. Chapter 
of the Prophecy of the Prophet Hosea. 
"Wherein is shewed the large extent of Gods free Mercy, 
even unto the most miserable forlorne and wretched sinners 
that may be, upon their Humiliation and Repentance. 
Also the Saints Priviledge, S^c. 
Preached by that Learned and ludi- 
cious Divine, Dr. SiBS, late Preacher to the Ho- 
nourable Society of Grayes Inne, and Master of 

Katherine-Hall in Cambridge. 
Published by his own Permission before his Death. 
The third Edition. 
Jerem. 3. 12, 13. 
Goe and Prodaime these words towards the North, and say, Return thou 
Backsliding Israel, saith the LORD ; and I tvill not cause mine Anger to fall 
upon you : for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will 7iot keep anger for 
ever. Onely acknowledge thine iniqnity, &c. 
Printed by T. Mab and A. Coles for John Saywell dwel- 
ling in Little Brittain without Aldersgate at the signe 
of the Grey-hound. M D C L. 


Good reader ! this treatise begs the favour of those concerning whom espe- 
cially it is said Chiist came for, poor trembling sinners, ' the blind,' 'the pri- 
soners of hope,' * and such who by the assiduity, iteration, and multitude of 
Satan's discouragements and temptations, sit, as it were, in darkness, and 
in the valley of death, to whom every sour thing is sweet. • Because these, 
most of all, rehsh and stand in need of mercy ; for when the least flame 
of that unsupportable wrath breaks forth in show, which is poured out like 
fire, and ' kindled by the breath of the Lord of Hosts, like a river of brim- 
Btone,'f which can make ' the mountains quake, the hills melt,' | ' burn up 
the earth, and all that is therein,' § the poor soul for the time thinking on 
nothing but 'blackness and darkness of tempest,' || whilst bj-past sins, 
without sight of the Mediator, stares them in the face, with millions of 
imconceivable horrors and astonishments : then to see light in inrkness, 
mercy in ^vrath, the sunshine of righteousness, a gracious God appeased 
by a Mediator, with some sight and sense of itu interest therein, this must 
needs overjoy the troubled soul, which is the main subject of this book. 
How ga-acious God is to encourage miserable sinners to return ! What 
encom-agements and helps he gives them, what effects his gracious working 
hath in them, and how sweetly they close with him again ! Wherefore, 
though this mess comes not unto thee set forth in a 'lordly dish,' ^ not hav- 
ing passed, since the preaching thereof, under the exquisite hand of the 
most worthy author, yet despise it not. For many times, though things of 
gi-eater judgment affect the understanding most, yet things of lesser con- 
ciseness work more upon the affections in a plain flowing way, which hap- 
piness, with all other felicities, ho wisheth thee, who is ever 

Thine in the best bonds, 

J. H.** 

* Isa. Ixi. 1. t Isa. xxx. 33. t Amos ix. 5,13. § 2 Peter iii. 12. 

II Heb. xii. 18. t Judges v. 25. 

** This J. H. was probably the John Hill who writes an 'Epistle Dedicatory' to 
Elton's work on the ' Ten Commandments,' entitled, ' God's Holy Mind Tovching 
Matters Morall,' &c. (4to, 1625). He therein addresses the parishioners of ' St Marie 
Magdalen's in Barmondsey,' {i.e., Bermondsey), who were formerly under the charge 
of Elton, as his ; but there appears to be little known of him beyond this. He ia 
not the ' John Hill' noticed in the Nonconformist's Memorial, ii. 64. — Gt. 



Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 
Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto him, Take away all ini- 
quity, <&c. — Hos. XIV. 1, 2. 

The whole frame of godliness is a mystery, Col. i. 26. The apostle called 
it ' a great mystery,' comprehending all under these particulars : ' God was 
manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto 
the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glorj',' 1 Tim. iii. 
16. Amongst which mysteries, this may well be the ' mystery of mysteries.' 
' God was manifest in the flesh,' which includeth also another mystery, 
the graciousness and abundant tender mercy of God towards miserable, 
wretched, and sinful creatures ; even in the height of their rebellion, 
appointing such a remedy to heal them. \\Tiich is the subject of this 
chapter, and last part of this prophecy : which, as it thunders out terrible 
judgments against hard-hearted impenitent sinners (such as wefe the most 
part of Israel), so is it mingled full of many and sweet consolations to the 
faithful, in those times, scattered amongst the wicked troop of idolaters 
then living. 

The time when Hosea prophesied was under the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, 
Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah ; and in the days of Jeroboam, the son 
of Joash, king of Israel, in whose days idolatry was first universally set up, 
and countenanced by regal power. This Jeroboam, ' who caused Israel to sin,' 

1 Kings XV. 34, that he might strengthen himself, made use of religion, 
and profanely mixed it with his civil affairs in carnal policy, and so leavened 
the whole lump of Israel with idolatry, that shortly after, the whole ten 
tribes, for their sin, and their injustice, cruelty, lust, security, and such 
other sins as accompanied and sprang from this brutish idolatry, were led 
away captive by the king of Assyiia, and the Lord's righteous judgment 
made manifest upon them. 

There being, notwithstanding, amongst these some faithful ones, though 
thinly scattered, who mourned for, and by their good examples, reproved 
these abominable courses : there being also a seed of the elect unconverted ; 
and of the converted, some that were carried down too far in the strength 
of this stream of wickedness : in this chapter, therefore, being the con- 


elusion of this prophecy, there are many excellent and heavenly encourage- 
ments ; also many earnest incitements to repentance and retui-ning to the 
Lord, with free and gracious promises, not only of pardon and acceptance, 
but of great rewards in things spiritual and temporal to such as should thus 

' Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine 

' Take with you words, and turn to the Lord ; say unto him, Take away 
all iniquity,' &c. 

In this chapter we have, 

1. An ea-hortation to repentance, ivith the motives enforcing the same : ' 
Israel, return unto the Lord thy God,' ver. 1. 

2. The form : ' Take with you words, and say unto the Lord,' &c., ver. 2. 
8. A restipidation, ivhat they should do : and return hack again, having their 

prayers granted. 1. Thanksgiving : ' So will we render the calves of our 
lips.' 2. Sound reformation of their beloved sin: ' Ashur shall not save us,' 
&c. ; with the reason thereof: ' For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy,' 
7er. 3. 

4. God's answer to their petitions, 1. In what he ivill do for them : ' Heal 
their backsUding, love them freely, and be as the dew unto Israel ; ' ivith the 
reason thereof : ' For mine anger is turned away from him,' ver. 4. 2. What 
he uill ivork in them, a jjroportionable speedy growth in height, breadth, and 
depth : * He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon,' 
&c. ; which mercy is further amplified by a blessing poured out also upon their 
families : ' They that dwell under his shadow shall return,' ver. 6-7. 

5. There is set down a further effect of this repentance and gi-acious 
work in them, a sound and strong well-rooted indignation against their former 
darling sins ; ' Ephraim shall say. What have I any more to do with idols ? ' 
backed with a strong consolation : ' I have heard him and observed him,' 
&c., ver, 8. 

6. The diverse event and issue of this God's so gracious dealing, is shewed 
both in the godly and wicked. 1. The wise and prudent vmderstand and 
!6now that the ways of the Lord are right, and shall walk in them; but, 2. 
' The transgi'essors shall fall therein,' ver. 9. 

' Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine 

Every word' hath his weight, and, in a manner, is an argument to en- 
force this returning. 

'0 Israel!' Israel, we know, 1, is a word of covenant. Jacob was 
Israel, a prince and wrestler with God, as they also ought to be. There- 
fore he enforceth. You also ought to return, because you are Israel. And, 
2, It was also an encouragement for them to return, because God so acknow- 
ledgeth them to be Israel, and will be gracious unto them, though they were 
Buch hideous sinners. 

' Return,' saith he, ' unto the Lord Jehovah,' who is the chief good. For 
when a man retui'neth to the creature, which is a particular, changeable 
good, unsatisfying [to] the soul, he is restless still until he come unto 
Jehovah, who is the all-sufficient, universal good, who fills and fills the soul 
abundantly. Therefore, ' return ' to him who is the fountain of all good, 
and giveth a being unto all things, and not to ' broken cisterns,' Jer. ii. 13. 
He is Jehovah, like himself, and ' changeth not.' And then he is thy God. 
Therefore, return to him who is thy God in covenant, who will make good 
his gracious covenant unto thee, and did choose thee to be ' his people bo- 


fore all the nations of the world.' This, therefore, is also an encouragement 
to return. And then, 

' Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.' Therefore, because thou art fallen 
by thy iniquities, and thine own inventions have brought these miseries 
upon thee, and none but God can help thee out of these miseries, seeing 
he only can, and is willing to forgive thy sins and revive thee, therefore, 

* Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine 

Now, in that he forewarneth them of the fearful judgments to come, which 
were to fall upon them unless they were prevented by true repentance, hence 
in general it is to be observed. 

That God comes not as a sudden storm upon his people, hut gives them learn- 
ing before he smites them. 

This is verified in Scripture. When the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah 
was great, the Lord said, ' Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, 
and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now and see whether 
they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto me ; 
and if not, I will know,' Gen. xviii. 20, 21. And wherefore was the ark of 
Noah so long in building, but to give warning to that sinful age, which were 
nothing bettered by it. The like we have of Pharaoh and all the Egyptians, 
who had so many warnings and miracles shewed before their destruction 
came, Exod. si. 1, seq. Thus God dealt in Amos : ' Therefore, thus will I 
do unto thee ; and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thj 
God, Israel,' Amos iv. 12. ' Jerusalem, Jerusalem,' saith Christ, 
' thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, 
how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen 
gathereth the chickens under her wings, and ye would not,' Mat. xxiii. 37. 
What need we stand upon proofs ? Are not all the threatenings of Scrip- 
ture as so many warning-pieces of approaching judgments ? 

1. The reason hereof is, his own nature. ' He is a God of long-suffering,' 
Exod. xxxiv. 6. He made the world in six days, yet hath continued it six 
thousand years, notwithstanding the many sins and provocations thereof, 
* his mercies being over all his works,' Ps. cxlv. 9. 

2. And partly _/>o»i a special regard to his own dear children, these terrible 
threatenings not being killing and wounding, but, like Jonathan's warning 
arrows, who, though he shot, yet meant no other harm to David save to 
forewarn him of harm, 1 Sam. xx. 20. 

Use. Let us, therefore, observe God's gracious and mild deaUng in so 
much mercy, who giveth us so many warnings by his servants, and lesser 
judgments which we have had amongst us ; let us take notice and believe, 
so as behef may stir up fear, and fear may provoke care, and care stir up 
endeavours to provide us an ark, even a hiding-place betimes, before winter 
and worse times come upon us. 

Hence issueth another general point, that 

The best 2}rovision for preventing of destruction is spiritual means. 

God himself is a spirit, and spiritual means reach unto him who is the 
first mover of the great wheel of all the affairs of this world. It is pre- 
posterous to begin at the second cause. We trouble ourselves in vain there, 
when W3 neglect the first. We should therefore begin the work in heaven, 
and first of all take up that quarrel which is between God and our souls. 
If this be done first, we need not fear the carriage of second things, all 
which God, out of his good providence and gracious care, will fi-ame to work 
for good to his, Rom. viii. 28, for whose sakes, rather than help should fail, 


he will create new helps, Isa. iv. 5. Wherefore, in all things it is best to 
begin with God. 

The third general point is this, that 

OJ all spiritual means, the best is to return to the Lord. 

In this returning, 1. There must he a stop. Those who have run on in 
•evil ways must first stop their lewd courses. For naturally from our birth 
and childhood wo are posting on to hell ; and yet such is our madness 
(unless the Spirit of God shew us ourselves) to be angry with those who 
stand in our way. 

To make this stop, then (which is always before returning). 

(1.) There must be examination and consideration xvhither our icays tend. 
There be stopping considerations, which both waken a man and likewise 
put rubs in his way ; if a man, upon examination, find his ways displeasing 
imto God, disagreeing from the rule, and consider what will be the end and 
issue of them (nothing but death and damnation), and withal consider of 
the da}' of judgment, the hour of death, the all-seeing eye of God, and the 
like. So the consideration of a man's own ways, and of God's ways to- 
wards him, partly when God meets him with goodness ; — I have hitherto 
been a ^^le wretch, and God hath been good to me, and spared me ; — and 
partly when God stops a wicked man's ways with thorns, meets him with 
crosses and afilictions. These will work upon an ingenious* spirit, to 
make him have better thoughts and deeper considerations of true happiness, 
and the way unto it. God puts into the heart of a man, whom he intends 
to save, serious and sad considerations, what estate he is in, whither his 
course leads ; and withal he lets them feel some displeasure of his, towards 
them, in those ways, by his ways towards them ; whereupon they make 
a stop. 

(2.) There must be humiliation, with displeasure against ourselves, judging 
and taking revenge of ourselves, working and reflecting on our hearts, tak- 
ing shame to ourselves for our ways and courses ; and withal, there must 
concm- some hope of mercy. For so long as there is hue and cry, as we 
say, after a traitor, he returns not, but flies still and hastes away ; but ofler a 
pardon, and he returneth. So, unless there be hope of pardon, to draw a 
man again to God, as the prodigal was moved to return by hope of mercy 
and favour from his father, Luke xv. 18, we will not, we dare not else return. 

(3.) There must be a, resolution to overcome impediments. For when a 
man thinks or resolves to turn to God, Satan will stir up all his instru- 
ments, and labour to kill Christ in his infancy, and to quench good while 
it is in the purpose only. The dragon stood watching for the birth of the 
child. Rev. xii. 4 ; so doth Satan observe the birth of every good resolution 
and purpose, so far as he can know them, to destroy them. 

Use. Let it be thought of by us in all our distresses, and in whatsoever 
other evidences of God's anger, whether this means have been taken up by 
us. It will be thus known. 

[1.] Turning is a change of the posture of the body ; so is this of the 
frame of the mind. By this we know a man is in a state of turning. The 
look of his intentions, purposes, the whole bent of his soul